Volume 9 • Number 1
The Strategic Dynamics of Total Quality Management:
A Grounded Theory Research Study
by Denis Leonard, University of Wisconsin and Rodney
McAdam, University of Ulster
The aim of this article is to describe the development
of total quality management (TQM) models using a grounded
theory research methodology where a key part of the methodology
is a longitudinal study. The models seek to capture the
development of quality within organizations over time and
thus to contribute a dynamic perspective.
Much of existing literature on longitudinal TQM development
in organizations is anecdotal and descriptive, without any
obvious theoretical base. This article seeks to help fill
the void by examining organizational practice with the view
to develop underpinning theoretical models through grounded
The article describes five models, which can be combined
to describe the effective development of TQM within an organization.
The models include TQM environment, TQM life cycle, the
key points of TQM application, the strategic application
of TQM, and the strategic application of the business excellence
model (BEM). The case study is used to illustrate the application
of the models in a dynamic situation.
Key words: dynamics, grounded theory, operations, strategy,
In the total quality management (TQM) literature there is
a paucity of research on developing TQM models for organizational
practice that are grounded in longitudinal research
studies (Spencer et al. 1994). Many of the TQM models in use
have been derived either from best-practice studies
or deductive statistical-based research. The aim of this article
is to describe the development of TQM models using a grounded
theory research methodology where a key part of the
methodology is a longitudinal study.
It is essential that any grounded research study is based
firmly on managerial and organizational practice and rigorously
applies grounded theory research principles (Strauss and Corbin
First, the article describes the research methodology. Second,
the grounded TQM models derived from the research are explained,
and third, the models are applied and developed in the context
of a longitudinal case study. Finally, conclusions are drawn
in regard to applying the models in practice.