TQM AND BUSINESS EXCELLENCE: IS THERE REALLY A CONFLICT?
Abstract The shift in focus from TQM to business excellence and recent changes to the EFQM Excellence Model has resulted in suggestions that quality has been marginalised. It has also been suggested that quality is making a comeback as a result of perceived shortcomings in business excellence. The paper explores the literature and asserts that business excellence and quality complement each other and should co-exist. It also provides a view on why business excellence might be partly responsible for recent increased interest in quality while maintaining that quality never really ``died'' in the first place. Keywords TQM, Business excellence, Quality, European Foundation for Quality Management
Over the past 15 years or thereabouts, the pursuit of corporate excellence as a way of managing businesses for competitive advantage has been increasingly recognisable and has led, among others to the formation of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) in 1988 (Hakes, 1997). The EFQM subsequently developed its business excellence model and used it as a framework for the award of the European Quality Award (EQA) and the associated national quality awards. The EFQM model was largely based on the concept of total quality management (TQM) as both a holistic philosophy and an improvement on other TQM-based models, such as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA). In 1999, the EFQM revised the model and, among other things, made a noticeable switch in language from TQM to organisational excellence. Nabitz et al. (1999) noted that the word ``quality'' does not appear in either the sub-criteria or the areas to address on the revised model. Furthermore, the EQA is now known as the EFQM excellence award. This change in focus has led to considerable disquiet among traditional TQM practitioners. Dale (2000) noted that TQM, as an approach, has faded from use as many managers have ``found it wanting in terms of living
up to its initial promise and their expectations''. He goes on, however, to identify potential pitfalls that may result as a result of such ``replacement language''. This includes conflict and difficulties that may be faced by newcomers to the quality movement, and the scepticism that the changes would cause after it had taken considerable time to get organisations and the public to buy into the importance of quality. Peters (2000) also noted that quality was seen as old-fashioned and superseded, to an extent, by the concept of ``excellence''. Dale et al. (2000a) also noted that people at the centre of initiatives including self-assessment against the EFQM Excellence Model often believe that their performance improvement initiatives are based on quality even though they have little or simplistic knowledge of the subject. The contrast in fortunes between ``excellence'' and TQM is even more evident in the public sector. Although attempts were made to introduce the TQM concept into public organisations, it is not evident that these attempts had any notable success. On the other hand, a government White Paper supports the use of excellence principles in public sector organisations (Cairncross, 2000). Gilbert (2000) wrote: The Cabinet Office's Public Sector Excellence Programme seeks to bring the benefits of the Excellence model to public bodies and to encourage all parts of the public sector to conduct self assessments against the Model.
Gilbert then cited a survey of 3,500 public sector organisations by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), which estimated that 44 per cent of public sector organisations were using the model, with 81 per cent of the users believing that the Model was an effective tool within their organisations.
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Measuring Business Excellence 5,3 2001, pp. 37-40, # MCB University Press, 1368-3047
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