Continuous Quality Improvement as a Central Tenet of TQM: History and Current Status

Behrooz Lahidji, Walter Tucker


Purpose: The great promise of continual quality improvement advocated by early quality gurus like Deming and Juran has not been fully realized. This paper explores the reasons for the limited success of implementation and institutionalization of continuous quality improvement.

Approach: About 100 quality professionals from diverse organizations answered questions related to this study. Additionally, the authors executed a wide-ranging literature search including the use of Google Scholar.

Findings: Nearly all quality professionals queried in this study agree that compliance to an external quality standard such as ISO is mandatory for their organizations. However, there is disagreement as to whether or not compliance with the continuous improvement proviso in most quality standards is actually implemented and functioning.

Research limitations/implications: The sample size is small and there is a need for a larger universe of quality professionals, registration/standards organizations, and academic researchers.

Practical implications: Many organizations from a broad array of economic sectors both public and private must comply with external quality standards. Most external quality standards contain a requirement for evidence of continuous improvement. However, the potential for improvement associated with compliance is frequently not realized.

Originality/value: Continuous quality improvement is central to many quality standards including ISO 9001. Unfortunately, many ISO compliant organizations are unable to operationalize and sustain the process of continual improvement. This paper provides a novel examination of this problem and suggests ways that organizations can leverage the potential for improvement via their existing quality systems.


Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), 2013. Downloaded May 20, 2015 from

Best, M. and Neuhauser, D., 2006. Walter A. Shewhart, 1924, and the Hawthorne factory, Quality and Safety in Health Care, 15(2), pp.142-143.

Booker, B. and Tucker, W., 2015. Lowest level employee engagement in quality system compliance: audits, and improvement. In: Excellence in Services. 18th Toulon-Verona International Conference, Palermo (Italy) 1 August 31-September 1, 2015, Palermo: University of Palermo.

Breggar, M.M., 2009. How to Shift from Reactive Compliance to Strategic Quality Management. Biopharm International, 22(7), p.22.

Deming, W.E., 1986. Out of the crisis. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Center for advanced engineering study.

Drucker, P.F., 1971. What we can learn from Japanese management. Harvard University. Graduate School of Business Administration.

Fairclough, N., 2003. Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. Psychology Press.

Goldman, H.H., 2005. The origins and development of quality initiatives in American business. The TQM Magazine, 17(3), pp.217-225.

Hendricks, K. and Singhal, V., 1997. Does implementing an effective TQM program actually improve operating performance? Empirical evidence from firms that have won quality awards. Management Science, 43(9), pp.1258-1274.

Hounshell, D., 1985. From the American system to mass production, 1800-1932: The development of manufacturing technology in the United States. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press.

Hutchins, D., 1983. Three hour die change only takes Japanese eight minutes. Production Engineer, 62(12), p.5.

Hutchins, D., 2012. Hoshin Kanri: the strategic approach to continuous improvement. Gower Publishing, Ltd.

International Standards Organization, 2015. ISO 9000:2015 Quality management systems - Fundamentals and vocabulary. [online] Available at: [accessed May 5, 2015].

Ishikawa, K., 1985. What is total quality control? The Japanese way. (Vol. 215). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Juran, J.M., 1988. Juran on planning for quality. New York, NY: Free Press.

Juran, J.M. (Ed.), 1995. A history of managing for quality: The evolution, trends, and future directions of managing for quality. ASQC Quality Press.

Kano, N., 1995. Upsizing the organization by attractive quality creation. In: Gopal K. Kanji, ed. 1995. Total Quality Management. Springer Netherlands. pp.60-72.

Kano, N., 2001. Life cycle and creation of attractive quality. In: 4th QMOD Conference, Linköping, Sweden, 12-14 September 2001, pp.18-36.

Kartha, C., 2004. A comparison of ISO 9000:2000 quality system standards, QS9000, ISO/TS 16949 and Baldrige criteria. The TQM Magazine, 16(5), pp.331-340.

Krafcik, J.F., 1988. Triumph of the lean production system. Sloan Management Review, 30(1), p.41.

Knouse, S., Carson, P., Carson, K. and Heady, R., 2009. Improve constantly and forever: The influence of W. Edwards Deming into the twenty-first century. The TQM Journal, 21(5), pp.449-461.

Locke, E. A., 1982. The ideas of Frederick W. Taylor: an evaluation. Academy of Management Review, 7(1), pp.14-24.

MacDuffie, J. and Krafcik, J., 1992. Integrating technology and human resource for high-performance manufacturing: Evidence from the international auto industry. In: T.A.

Kochan, M. Useem, eds. 1992. Transforming organizations. New York: Oxford University Press, pp.209-226.

Naveh, E. and Marcus, A., 2004. When does the ISO 9000 quality assurance standard lead to performance improvement? Assimilation and going beyond. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 51(3), pp.352-363.

Naveh, E., Marcus, A. and Moon, H. K., 2004. Implementing ISO 9000: performance improvement by first or second movers. International Journal of Production Research, 42(9), pp.1843-1863.

Ohno, T., 1982. How the Toyota production system was created. Japanese Economic Studies, 10(4), pp.83-101.
Ohno, T., 1988. Toyota production system: beyond large scale production. Cambridge, MA: Productivity Press.

Poksinska, B., Dahlgaard, J. and Antoni, M., 2002. The state of ISO 9000 certification: a study of Swedish organizations. The TQM Magazine, 14(5), pp.297-306.

Sampaio, P., Saraiva, P. and Guimarães Rodrigues, A., 2009. ISO 9001 certification research: questions, answers and approaches. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 26(1), pp.38-58.

Samson, D. and Terziovski, M., 1999. The relationship between total quality management practices and operational performance. Journal of Operations Management, 17(4), pp.393-409.

Sasaki, N. and Hutchins, D. eds., 2014. The Japanese approach to product quality: Its applicability to the West. Pergamon Press.

Shewhart, W.A., 1924. Some applications of statistical methods to the analysis of physical and engineering data. Bell Labs Technical Journal, 3(1), pp.43-87.

Shewhart, W.A., 1931. Economic control of quality of manufactured product, Vol. 509. ASQ Quality Press.
Shewhart, W.A., 1986. Statistical method from the viewpoint of quality control. Courier Corporation.

Shingo, S., 1985. A revolution in manufacturing: the SMED system. Productivity Press.

Shingo, S., 1986. Zero quality control: Source inspection and the poka-yoke system. Productivity Press.

Shingo, S., 1989. A study of the Toyota production system: From an Industrial Engineering Viewpoint. Productivity Press.

Singh, P., Power, D.J. and Chuong, S.C., 2011. A Resource Dependence Theory Perspective of ISO 9000 in Managing Organizational Environment. Journal of Operations Management, 29(1-2), pp.49-64.

Sun, H., 2000. Total quality management, ISO 9000 certification and performance improvement. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 17(2), pp.168-179.

Taguchi, G., 1986. Introduction to quality engineering: designing quality into products and processes. Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization.

Taylor, F.W., 1914. The principles of scientific management. New York, London: Harper & Brothers.

Teehan, R., and Tucker, W., 2014. Service quality kaizen blitz: the road to improving customer satisfaction. Sinergie Italian Journal of Management, 94, pp.233-241.

United States International Trade Commission, 1985. A Review of recent developments in the US automobile industry including an assessment of the Japanese voluntary restraint agreements: preliminary report to the Subcommittee on Trade, Committee on Ways and Means, of the US House of Representatives in connection with investigation no. 332-188. US International Trade Commission.

Womack, J.P., Jones, D.T. and Roos, D., 2008. The machine that changed the world. Simon and Schuster.

Zairi, M., 2013. The TQM legacy – Gurus’ contributions and theoretical impact. The TQM Journal, 25(6), pp.659-676.


Behrooz Lahidji (Primary Contact)
Walter Tucker
Lahidji, B., & Tucker, W. (2016). Continuous Quality Improvement as a Central Tenet of TQM: History and Current Status. Quality Innovation Prosperity, 20(2), 157–168.
Copyright and license info is not available

Article Details

Modelling of an Additive 3D-Printing Process Based on Design of Experiments Methodology

José Alberto Eguren, Aritz Esnaola, Gorka Unzueta
Abstract View : 602
Download :331