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Towards the adoption of new management methods in a modernising national business system?: a study of the responses of middle managers to Total Quality Management in Greek service industry

By Alexandros G. Psychogios


Total Quality Management (TQM) emerged as a promising management practice mainly in the US and the UK. Its principles challenge the managerial traditions of other countries. A prime example is Greece. In view of the widespread argument that Middle Managers (MMs) are key elements in making TQM work, this study explores the relationship between these people and TQM in the Greek National Business System (NBS). It focuses on how TQM is perceived by them and it investigates whether MMs' perceived awareness of TQM affects their responses to a set of individual and organisational aspects.\ud This study adopts the contingency approach to TQM. This approach argues that TQM does not have determinate effects and that its consequences are shaped by the context in which it operates. This thesis expands knowledge by developing a theoretical framework that addresses the relationship between TQM and Middle Management in this specific national context. It offers strong evidence on four specific contingencies, in the light of which managers' responses to TQM should be explored. These factors are the business/management culture, the modernisation agenda, the sector of employment and the educational background of managers. Moreover, this study contributes to the development of the research methodology in the area, by combining quantitative (survey questionnaire) and qualitative (follow-up interviews) methods. 241 questionnaires were collected and 18 follow-up interviews were conducted in 43 different public (19) and private (24) service organisations. Finally this thesis offers statistically reliable measurement of the 'soft' and 'hard' sides of TQM.\ud In this respect, six major arguments about the relationship between TQM and MMs are supported. First, it is recognised by the MMs that the business system needs modernisation and QM is a part of it. Second, although the acronym TQM and some of its concepts and practices are known by a range of public and private sector managers, actual awareness of its 'soft' side is often superficial, and people have a relatively poor understanding of it. Third, MMs tend to see TQM from the technical point of view, being aware only of the importance of its 'hard' aspects. Fourth, whilst MMs perceive TQM as enhancing individual aspects like autonomy, loyalty and career prospects, at the same time they acknowledge the increased work effort and stress due to the perceived awareness of TQM. Fifth, they hold sceptical positions about the adoption and actual application TQM related organisational issues like empowerment and top management commitment and support. The sixth, overall, conclusion is that TQM was neither resisted nor directly absorbed. The principles of quality improvement have been widely accepted, but convincing Greek managers to apply 'soft' TQM aspects remains a major challeng

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