Within the last few decades, the term total quality management (TQM) has been broadly in use, as there are substantial researches and empirical studies have been conducted, all of which aim to explore what aspects and practices it can offer. Also, nowadays, it seems to be particularly important to evaluate the outcomes that can result from adopting such a concern. At the present time, the tremendous revolution in the communications and technology systems produced a profound impact on the development of different industries and this impact affected practically all spheres of human life. No wonder, in recent years, the world has been facing dramatic challenges in a variety of fields to become a single space. In fact, the modern world undergoes processes known as globalization. The process of globalization leads to the elimination of all sorts of barriers that exist between people and countries making them connected closely and fed with abundant and smooth flow of information. As a result, this situation has led to the creation of a fierce and competitive business environment globe in which the organisations, either locally or globally, have been forced to seek for effective strategies to be able to increase their competitiveness. TQM is an integrated approach, which aims at sustaining an organisation’s competitiveness. However, the question that logically arises is what the ways, in which it can be assured that TQM can really provide an opportunity to achieve higher competitive abilities, are. This question is of utmost importance since in the modern world the competitive advantage is one of the major conditions of the commercial success of a company.
Reviewing the Literature
On analyzing the recent researches dedicated to the problem of TQM and its effectiveness in the conditions of the growing competition, it should be said that the intensive competitive globe is driven by the need to achieve high quality levels of products and services through meeting the customer requirements. Accordingly, it is widely believed, despite the fact that TQM can be used even within the public and non-for-profit sectors, that the main object behind adopting this management philosophy, as a strategic choice, remains to improve the overall organisation’s performance and gaining a competitive advantage.
It is really important to underline that the numerous market researches reveal the fact that in the current economic situation, it is necessary to develop an effective management system that could provide the formation of a positive customers’ experience (Cooper 2000). In this respect, TQM may be really helpful and it should be viewed as an effective tool that provides ample opportunities to create a positive customers’ experience and, thus, the positive image of a brand of a company in customers’ conscience.
Furthermore, it is worthy of mention that the creation of a positive customers’ experience with the help of TQM is based on the wide application of the concept of the quality, which is nowadays viewed as the backbone of the functioning of a company (Cooper 2000). To put it more precisely, it is necessary to say that many companies have made TQM its main strategy of the further development and its effective application is considered to be very helpful when a company needs to overcome the resistance of the competitors. The reasons is quite obvious since one of the basic ideas of TQM implies that a company produces some products or service of a higher quality compared to its major competitors (Hesselbein et al 1996). In such a situation, customers naturally prefer the products or services of this company and, consequently, the popularity of the company grows along with sales rates.
Pointing out that researches have indicated that further market share can be gained from quality of services rather than lower prices, Croft (1996) mentions that TQM, which is an approach developed in the 1980s by two management scientists, Deming and Juran, aims at the improvement of the organisation effectiveness by developing a long-term improved quality culture. The major principle of TQM is based on meeting the customer’s needs to achieve a superior position in the market place. In similar vein, Bank (2000) draws our attention to that TQM programmes promise with greater benefits, in terms of financial savings, that can significantly reduce the cost of quality, and also by empowering people through team work and participation concepts, the decision-making process can be improved too. For instance, the positive impact of TQM on the organisation performance can be seen in the fact as there are a number of successful paradigms from numerous organisations from Japan, America, European, and further from some developing countries that can be attributed to the successful TQM programmes.
However, the impact of TQM on business effectiveness appears sometimes to be quite arguable and either is not proved. To put it more precisely, it is argued that this situation can be reasoned to the manner and means by which an organization attempts to deal with TQM practices. Despite the popularity of TQM in the US and Western Europe, studies have revealed that it is hard to successfully implement these programmes. It is noted, for example, that the organizational structure had a significant influence on TQM effectiveness; namely, flexibility-oriented organic structures were more conducive to effectiveness than control-oriented mechanistic structures. These difficulties are often result from a failure to pay sufficient attention to the organization context of TQM (Tata et al. 1999). Like any other tool or methodology, Sahni and Gaertner (2001) add that TQM can be success or failure depending on how well it is planned, implemented, measured, and encouraged. It is essential (Zhu and Scheuermann, 1999) to have solid managerial techniques in place before the TQM strategy is established. Employee participation in the TQM programs appears necessary for improving the process of delivering goods and services. Managers also must initially identify the weak points before any effort is commenced, as the writers emphasize that the major barrier against successful implementation of TQM is the lack of management commitment. Yusof and Aspinwall (2000) bring the attention to that formulation of a sound implementation framework prior to embarking on such a change process is a crucial element to ensure an effective adoption of TQM. This is mainly because many organisations do not realize the extent to which it may be difficult to make a substantial change in the working culture and an impact on people.
Consequently, it is necessary to underline that many researchers (Benfari 2004) agree that the development of a successful TQM is highly dependent on the work of managers and their professional skills and abilities. At the same time, it is necessary to remember about great opportunities that TQM opens before a company that manages to successfully implement it in its work. It proves beyond a doubt that the effective TQM may predetermine the substantial growth of a company’s popularity among customers since, due to the high quality of its products, they are convinced in the reliability and responsibility of the company (Benfari 2004). Obviously, quality is extremely important because often a company cannot effectively compete, especially, when it faces the competition from the part of large multinational corporations. In such a situation, it is practically impossible to use other methods and tools but TQM or, at least, any alternative method seems to be less effective than TQM because quality becomes a crucial factor influencing customers’ choices.
The Research Objects
The main intention of this work is to contribute to the TQM knowledge, which assumes that gaining a competitive advantage can be owed to a wide extent to the appropriate adoption for TQM practices. The field study of this research will be the manufacturing sector in Libya, as a developing country, which looks for liberating this sector from the central control authority system towards the privatisation. The aim is to investigate the case whether TQM can work there, particularly, since the government has been encouraging the foreign companies to invest in the Libyan market. At the same time, the government tends to alleviate the administrative obstacles in the face of the local organisations to support its new strategy. This figure implications mean that there will be a hasten orientation toward more flexible trade environment, in which some companies may be threatened by tough competition.
Obviously, this is extremely important because Libya is a developing country and the role of the state in the national economy is considered to be quite high (Hesselbein et al 1996) that naturally prevent the local market from the effective implementation of principles of the open market economy. The latter prevents the country from the stable development and decrease the level of foreign investments in the national economy. Nevertheless, the recent trends reveal the fact that the local government is ready to implement essential changes to make investments in the national economy more profitable to foreign companies which, by the way, may be viewed as leaders in the practical implementation of TQM compared to national companies.
Furthermore, a great attention, in turn, will be paid to demonstrate that the development of TQM is not a tailor-made process that can lead directly to improve the organisation’s performance. Instead, the emphasis should be on the implementing process itself, as the risk of failure could be involved within its stages and aspects. Kirk (2000) argues that although TQM has been applied for years, organisations have not found it so easy for implementation and to achieve its expected advantages. The research attempts to provide a framework based on successful factors that can lead organisations, during the process of moving from monopolistic to competitive environment, to achieve the expected benefits, rather than getting into worse situations.
Hence, the thesis poses some main issues, which represent the clue to achieve the research objects. So, briefly speaking, the aim of this research is to:
- Investigate the extent and sort of the quality management systems, which has already been employed, and examine the nature of the link between those quality management issues and business effectiveness, prior to implementing TQM.
- Explore the horizon on which a beneficial competitive climate can be accomplished, and the readiness of organizations to adopt properly TQM.
- Identify the obstacles and challenges that are likely to be faced from inside and outside organization during the process of implementation.
- Pay a great attention to the satisfying customer’s needs point, as it plays a vital role to succeed the process of TQM, which appears massively neglected in such sort of monopolistic markets.
The Research Methodology
As it is well acknowledged, there are many different common methods for conducting researches depending upon the aim of and circumstances within which a research is conducted under. Thus, the thesis will carry out a survey, based on a relevant questionnaire to be delivered to a number of the served company’s employees who are different in their categories. This may be a very useful tool since it provides ample opportunities to find out the opinion of people involved in the questionnaire that can be used as a basis for the further analysis in order to properly assess the effectiveness of the suggestions made in terms of this research. It is really important because questionnaires also provide an opportunity to receive essential information directly from the people whose opinion is particularly significant for the current research.
It is anticipated to make the sample size of those people, who will be questioned through the questionnaire, as large as possible and involve different individuals from all of the company’s locations to ensure having more accurate data.
Statistically, in order to achieve a high level of precise results and make them really objective and reliable, it is necessary to choose random and unbiased sample of the population’s members.
It is necessary to mention that, when drawing up the proposed questionnaire, the European Model for Total Quality Management will be taken into account as the ground to develop TQM process. This model may be considered quite reliable since it has already proved its efficiency in other researches (Benfari 2004). This is why it would be quite logical to apply the model that has already been successfully implemented.
In addition to the use of a questionnaire, it is possible to conduct interviews which may be made to overcome any difficulties that are likely to be faced or to discuss with some managers any strict aspects that could arise. In fact, it is very important that professional managers were involved because, due to these interviews, it will be possible to receive more detailed information about the efficacy of TQM and analyze it objectively. Obviously, managers who have already applied this approach, are more experienced and their experience is really useful since it provides an opportunity to clearly define potential threats and risks of application of TQM and, what is even more important, interviews of managers can help find out the most effective way of implementation of TQM.
Also, it is possible to access the company’s archives to obtain any piece of information that could be needed. In brief, while the survey’s questionnaire aims to provide primary data, the company’s documents, records, and annual reports will present secondary data.
In such a way, it should be said that, in the proposed research, it is suggested to combine qualitative and quantitative methods of the analysis which seems to be very effective because it contributes to the larger and more objective assessment of the data received in the course of the research. To put it more precisely, the collection of purely statistic data, such as annual reports, for instance, can give the general information about the recent achievements of the company, including financial ones. At the same time, it will be hardly possible to clearly define what the real reasons of these achievements are and this is exactly where the qualitative analysis is needed. In this respect, interviews with managers seem to be particularly effective.
The Research’s Findings
It is envisaged from this research to find out that the process of implementing TQM in the field of this study tends to be quite slow in many cases. It is not exaggerated to say that TQM, in its real concept, does not seem to have been adopted yet. It is obvious that, in a monopolistic business environment, the customer satisfaction matter does not represent a major issue for organisations’ management. This is extremely important because the product sells itself.
Nevertheless, as it has been shown above, the intension to move to freer market condition, in a combination with the pressure of market factors, have been the major drivers to launch the TQM strategy.
On the other hand, it is predicted that there will be a positive respond towards applying TQM from the organisation’s society. This is the result of the fact that many of the companies’ managers have studied in developing countries, where they have, more or less, considerable knowledge about TQM. In spite of knowing that the process of implementing TQM is not an easy process, the commitment of managers to encourage such orientation tend to be great enthusiastic. Also, because of the easy exchangeable for information together with the availability of different resources of products at the present time, the customers’ behaviour and perceptions regarding the quality concerns have reached a wide extent of experience and wisdom. Consequently, the research expects to explore the scope to which TQM can be appropriately commenced there. The most important result that the thesis assumes to achieve is to lead any proposed future research, taking into consideration this issue, as there is an extreme lack of the number of researches that could offer more useful literature on that problem.