From few past decades (since the 1980s), TQM has become a globally implemented management technique. A lot of organizations and businesses have dedicated substantial attention to the implementation of TQM in manufacturing and services on account of creating better efficiency and quality for products and services, growing customer satisfaction, promoting business competitiveness, raising production performance, and reducing costs(Youssef, 1996). The quality award (such as The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award) receivers have revealed superior financial consequences in comparison with typical companies(Hansson & Eriksson, 2002). Anyhow, it is possible to be a high failure rate in the implementation of TQM(Hubiak & O’Donnell, 1996). Admittedly, one of the reasons is that dedicating little attention to HRM and considerations of personal relations by companies.
HRM is able to strengthen human relationships and group awareness, advance employee capability and aptitude, and achieve culture change. Thus, HRM acts as the catalyst for the implementation of TQM(Palo & Padhi, 2005). Total Quality Management depends upon the effective management of human resources completely.(Hoogervorst, Koopman, & Van der Flier, 2005).
In recent decades, total quality management (TQM) and human-resource management (HRM) have been significant topics in management and business research because of their potential to affect a range of organizational and individual performances(Boon, Arumugam, Safa, & Bakar, 2007). The majority of the research on HRM and TQM concentrate on the impacts of these approaches at the organizational level (Boselie & Van der Wiele, 2002).
In spite of numerous existing articles on HRM and TQM, quite little attention has been concentrated on the effect of these perspectives towards knowledge management (KM). Properly, running HRM and TQM in the direction of attaining KM value chain activities are tactically significant to obtain a competitive advantage(Molina, Montes, & Fuentes, 2004) and to serve as resources to sustain development(Gloet, 2006). From theoretical and practical point of view, their significance is emphasized by the fact that organizations’ merits over markets and other organizations when clarifying the existence of the organization(Ju, Lin, Lin, & Kuo, 2006; Molina et al., 2004).
The present paper tries to indicate the underlying issues:
- Determining the relationship between HRM activities and TQM activities, the effect of HRM practices on implementation of TQM, and upon quality performance.
- The influence of HRM and TQM practices on Knowledge Management (KM) activities.
There is not a unique definition of Total Quality Management. Some researchers assert that TQM has two sides, hard and soft in which the “soft” side highlights the human resource management(Wilkinson, 1992) and also total quality system is encompassed of two different systems, the management system and the technical system, in which the management system is relevant to HRM’s issues(Evans & Lindsay, 1999). In addition, Yang(2004) stated, “TQM is an integrated management philosophy and a set of practices that emphasizes, among other things, continuous improvement, meeting customers’ requirements, reducing rework, long-range thinking, increased employee involvement and team-work, process redesign, competitive benchmarking, team-based problem-solving, constant measurement of results, and closer relationships with suppliers.”
According to Hansson and Klefsjo (2003), it defined as “a management system in continuous change, which is constituted of values, methodologies and tools, the aim of which is to increase external and internal customer satisfaction with a reduced amount of resources.”
All of the mentioned definitions demonstrate a general consensus about the crucial values, and practices of Total Quality Management(Yang, 2003).
Due to the fact that the effect of HRM on TQM implementation is difficult to evaluate and measure in statistical terms, the level of implementation of TQM and HRM practice, and the connection between them, there is little empirical evidence to support the influence of HRM on TQM implementation. In order to overcome the difficulty of measurement, as a case study a survey was issued among HR managers and senior managers in high-tech companies of Taiwan. There are two reasons to opt this survey target:
- HR managers and upper management have more objective insights of the implementation levels of HRM and TQM, and also, the effect of HRM on TQM (Harel & Tzafrir, 1999).
- In comparison with typical companies, high-tech businesses have higher levels of implementation of HRM and TQM practices(Yang, 2006).
The levels of implementation of TQM and HRM hinge on what practices are adopted and how implement these practices(Yang, 2006). Figure 2 highlights the key HRM practices and also, 16 key activities in TQM in terms of the interview with HR managers and senior managers of high-tech companies, respectively. Furthermore, it shows three criteria of EQA, including customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and impact on society (that because of difficulty to assess the impact of a company on society, the company’s image has exploited instead of this criterion) and also, employees’ quality awareness as the fourth one.
It defined as a systematic approach to develop an organizations’ capability to mobilize knowledge to boost decision-making in formulating business strategy(Hsu & Shen, 2005). Darroch(2003) stated, “KM is the process that creates or locates knowledge and manages the sharing, dissemination and use of knowledge within the organization.” Darroch(2003) asserted, “Simple KM activities consist of three activities: knowledge acquisition, knowledge dissemination and responsiveness to knowledge.”
Human Resource Management and Total Quality Management use High Performance Work Practices (HPWP) (Boon et al., 2007). Generating sustained competitive advantage through High Performance Working Practices like performance appraisal, selective hiring process, reward systems, leadership, training, customer focus and development are fundamental dimensions of HRM and TQM system. These HPWP practices drive companies to excellent performance emphasized by Humane Resource Management and Total Quality Management(Boon et al., 2007).
The consequences indicate that HRM practices have significantly positive influence over the performance of TQM. Among all HRM practices mentioned in Figure 2, which have considerable impacts on majority of TQM activities, practices such as “job rotation”, and “employee security and health” have a weaker influence and moderate impact on TQM activities, respectively. It should be noted that in comparison “employee relations” with “job rotation” and “employee security and health” have more impact on TQM practices.
The consequences show that the highest effect on the implementation of TQM is listed as follows:
· “Training and education”: which is an essential basis for implementing many TQM programs
· “Incentive compensation”: which stresses on worker involvement and teamwork
· “Employee development”: which confirms that each worker has a fair opportunity to achieve his or her highest potential professionally and individually
· “Recruiting and selection”: which if it do well, the company hire staffs with good qualifications and necessary skills.
The following Table indicates that the impact of different HRM activities on implementation of TQM.
The impact of implementation of HRM upon different TQM practices
The consequences illustrate that the following TQM practices considerably affected by HRM implementation:
· “Culture change and development”
· “Customer satisfaction managing”
· “Statistical Quality Control”: it means to avoid defects and not scrutinize work defects.
· “Leadership”: which leads to managers develop leadership and perform well on their dependents.
Employees are able to change the worker’s behaviors, which lead to change of culture through performing well HRM practices such as training, incentives compensation, and leadership.
The implementation of HRM leads to customer satisfaction managing by employees’ development.
The following Table indicates that the impact of implementation of HRM upon different TQM practices.
The impact of implementation of HRM and TQM on quality performance
According to underlying table, the following result obtained:
- Doing HRM activities have special effects on “employee satisfaction” and “customer satisfaction”. Due to “customer satisfaction” can create profit for companies, it called vital business goal. Thus, companies must offer a “customer satisfaction managing” system, and employees are responsible to implement and maintain this system.
- HRM has significantly a positive impact on “employees’ quality awareness” and “company image”.
- The implementation of TQM caused greatest influence on “customer satisfaction”. Furthermore, it boosts “company’s image” and enriches “employee satisfaction” and “quality awareness”
- As a result, the implementations of HRM and TQM improved performances of companies, and HRM activities have positive effects on the performance of TQM. Therefore, implementing HRM is an essential strategy for increasing a firm’s competitiveness.
The impact of HRM and TQM on KM activities
- In order to raise HRM and TQM activities that are positive in the direction of KM activities, companies have to design a “performance appraisal system” to boost KM behaviors, exert “selective hiring process” to highlight ‘‘fit’’ between the staffs and the organization, design “reward systems” that rewards sharing of knowledge flow, provide extensive “training and development” to their employees, develop “transformational leadership theory” in order to provide a basis for enabling the KM process, and concentrate on customers to meet customer needs and improve customer satisfaction.