Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to verify the universal applicability of total quality management (TQM) across national boundaries. Specifically, the authors examined the validity of the isomorphic nature of TQM leadership style by comparing survey samples from both USA‐based firms ( n =112) and China‐based firms ( n =121). Design/methodology/approach – The authors collected the primary data through a survey research method. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) were adopted to test the hypothesized research model. Findings – The study results did not support the universality of TQM practices. For example, the results reveal that in the USA‐based firms, transformational leadership has a more significant positive influence on TQM practices, while in the China‐based firms, transactional leadership has a more significant positive impact on TQM practices. Originality/value – Most of the existing literature on TQM assumed that the most effective TQM leadership style would be universal across organizational or international boundaries. However, our findings imply that the effective leadership style for successful implementation of TQM practices could be contingent on the cultural background embedded within the firms. Therefore, the authors anticipate the findings of the study will guide future research on TQM and create a new path to find solutions not only for optimizing the successful implementation of TQM, but also for minimizing the current high level of TQM failures.
International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 29, 2014
Keywords: Transformational leadership; Contingency theory; Structural equation modeling (SEM); Total quality management (TQM); Transactional leadership; Universality of TQM practices; Isomorphism of TQM; Institutional theory
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