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The paradox of performance management in TQM-oriented organisations: some qualitative evidence

Soltani, Ebrahim, Liao, Ying-Ying, Iqbal, Abdullah (2020) The paradox of performance management in TQM-oriented organisations: some qualitative evidence. Production Planning and Control, . ISSN 0953-7287. E-ISSN 1366-5871. (Submitted) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:64820)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)


Despite the acknowledged significance of TQM as a potential source of sustainable competitive advantage (Deming, 1986; Powell, 1995) and performance appraisal as the organisation’s way of assessing employee value to the organisation (Aguinis, 2013; DeNisi and Murphy, 2017), the actual practice and extent of congruence between them have remained comparatively understudied. The importance of the current study is exemplified by the fact that many scholars have raised concerns regarding the effectiveness of performance appraisals for modern enterprise process improvement methodologies such as TQM. As such, several high-profile companies (e.g. Deloitte, Adobe, Accenture, Microsoft, General Electric) have recently decided to abolish their performance review altogether (Ewenstein et al. 2016; Cappelli and Tavis, 2016; The Economist, 2016). However, the popularity of TQM and other enterprise process improvement methods and the ubiquitous nature of performance management and appraisals have not been matched by the development of empirical insights which could further advance our understanding of the apparent contradiction between them. Given the centrality of enterprise process improvement methods and performance appraisal to an organisation’s functioning and long-term survival (see Powell, 1995; Waldman, 1994; Cappelli and Tavis, 2016), it is somewhat surprising to find that there is little empirical research to describe the nature and actual extent of any (mis)match between the performance appraisal systems in use and fundamental principles of quality management expressed by Deming and like-minded scholars, and the possible reasons for such a mismatch. This study is designed to redress this imbalance in the literature by describing how performance appraisal is actually practiced in the context of TQM.

Using a qualitative, inductively-oriented approach to the study of performance management practices in a sample of TQM-oriented manufacturing organizations in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, the results highlight two clusters of performance management systems in association with espoused precepts of TQM: control and compliance versus quality and commitment systems. While case organisations with a control and compliance system of performance management put the stress on the idea of cost minimisation with explicit locus of blame on employees for any performance variation and related undesirable quality costs, organisations with a quality-driven system of performance management place emphasis less on the control and compliance elements but give weight instead to the importance of diagnosing poor performance, aiding the employees in improving task performance and making objective judgement about the worth of the individual’s contribution to the organisation over a period of time. In sum, this study demonstrates the potential value of a contextually-appropriate performance management for a TQM-driven organisation in terms of fulfilling the twin objectives of getting its rightful due from the individual and leveraging TQM to gain competitive advantage.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: total quality management, performance management, qualitative methodology, manufacturing sector, Middle East region.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5351 Business
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Kent Business School (do not use)
Depositing User: Abdullah Iqbal
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2017 11:52 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Iqbal, Abdullah:
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