Total quality management (TQM), because of its focus on customer satisfaction, arguably is the most widely discussed approach to directing organizational efforts toward the goal of customer satisfaction. Its tenets are continuous improvement, top management leadership commitment to the goal of customer satisfaction, employee empowerment, and customer focus. Advocates of TQM hold that the goal of customer satisfaction is achieved through top management commitment to creating an organizational climate that empowers employees and focuses all efforts on the goal of customer satisfaction. A positive relationship between leadership and commitment and employee empowerment (leading to job satisfaction) with customer satisfaction is assumed.
Both the trade and academic kinds of literature on TQM suggest many different top leadership strategies and practices for empowering or involving employees in quality-related decision-making processes. However, few empirical studies, outside of the Malcolm Baldridge Award program, have been done to sufficiently document these relationships and to determine which of the many suggested strategies and practices are effective in bringing about the intended results (employee empowerment, job satisfaction, and superior customer satisfaction).
The objective of this study is to provide an empirical assessment of the assumed relationship between top management leadership and commitment, employee empowerment, job satisfaction, and customer satisfaction. Such an assessment should provide guidance to organizations in the design of empowerment and job satisfaction components of their TQM programs. Another objective is to provide empirical assessment for the TQM-based literature.
In almost all of the TQM literature, employee involvement, empowerment, and top management leadership and commitment are identified as crucial elements of a successful TQM program (Bowen, Siehl, &. Schneider, 1989. Brower, 1994. Camp, 1989. Deming, 1982. Mendelowitz, 1991. Roberts, 1994. Senge, 1994). Lawler (1994) referred to employee empowerment as one of the most important tenets of TQM. . .