Total Quality Management in Higher Education

Topics: Management, Quality assurance, Quality management Pages: 13 (4272 words) Published: October 8, 2011
Total quality management in higher education

The TQM Magazine Volume 7 · Number 6 · 1995 ·6–12

Gerald McElwee

Perspectives Total quality management in higher education: how to approach human resource management George Holmes and Gerard McElwee

The authors George Holmes is Dean of Management, University of Humberside, Hull, UK. Gerard McElwee is Associate Dean of School of Management, University of Humberside, Hull, UK. Abstract Presents the view that total quality management in higher education institutions, and the development of a so-called managerialist ideology, has led to the inevitable adoption of an approach to human resource management (HRM) policy and practice which is functionalist. Asserts that the criteria favoured by managerialism represented by TQM is not only inappropriate in higher education but that, more importantly, it limits the productive activity of individuals. This limitation occurs to the extent that, at the level of the individual “academic” in higher education organizations, quality control and assurance which has traditionally been a localized process of self and close peer review, has become formalized by externally imposed systems and procedures; a necessary condition under the current funding arrangements for enabling internal quality assurance systems to meet the requirements of external agencies. Suggests that only a truly professionalizing, “soft”, individualistic and user-focused collegial culture will provide a sufficient condition for total quality enhancement to become reality. Provides a summary of the rapidly changing nature of higher education organizations (and the conditions they face) with specific reference to the new university sector in the UK. Reviews the recent literature on human resource management (HRM). Offers recommendations for strategic managers and those invested with responsibility for quality in the new universities.

The TQM Magazine Volume 7 · Number 6 · 1995 · pp. 5–10 © MCB University Press · ISSN 0954-478X

The higher education sector in the UK is facing unprecedented and increasing levels of market accountability precipitated by the legislative processes of subsequent administrations. Linked to their new responsibilities and freedoms management in the incorporated higher education organizations (HEOs) is becoming increasingly “businesslike”. The need for managers to justify their actions and demonstrate quality and effectiveness has never been greater since the advent of the Higher Education Funding Council’s (HEFC) quality assessment and the Higher Education Quality Council’s (HEQC) quality audit processes. One of the results of such processes has been a preoccupation with TQM, which we argue is linked to performance appraisal and “hard” human resource management techniques[1, pp. 30-4]. These so-called “hard” approaches emphasize the importance of the market system and, hence, cost effectiveness. This article presents the view that the quest for total quality in higher education and the concomitant development of a managerialist ideology[2] has led to the inevitable and entirely inappropriate adoption of approaches to HRM policy and practice which are functionalist in nature. This is important at the strategic level. If a particular approach begins to legitimize the formal ways of working in academe, alien corporate cultures begin to be suffused into organizational life. These cultures are not synonymous with the macro culture of HEOs. This actualizes itself in constant realignments and shifts in hitherto accepted ways of working. We point to the limitations of such models as TQM and of functionalist management driven approaches to quality which may deprofessionalize. We argue for an alternative approach. We suggest that the environment created by the adoption of the values of approaches to HRM located within an interpretive approach may provide a necessary condition for the management of professionals in HEOs and, moreover, is more likely to...
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