Stuck in the middle with you: The effects of incongruency of senior and middle managers’ orientations on TQM programmes
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to extend the Pelz Effect to explain the effects of incongruence between senior managers' orientations and underlying assumptions of total quality management (TQM) on middle managers' own orientations and on TQM itself. Design/methodology/approach - Using a multi-case study approach of three organisations from different sectors, the authors conducted 68 semi-structured interviews with managers at both senior and middle levels. Findings - The findings largely support the Pelz Effect in that senior management exerts a major influence in establishing the tone and atmosphere of the TQM organisation by their orientations and attitudes towards the underlying principles of it. It has been found that senior managers' reliance on detection, reactive strategies and hard aspects of TQM - as opposed to prevention, proactive strategies and soft people-based issues - resulted in: first, middle managers' compliance with short-term tactical orientations rather than long-term commitment; second, middle managers' increased control over the workforce rather than the work-related processes; third, middle managers' tendency to agree about TQM objectives in a way to prioritise and fulfil their own self-interests rather than TQM intended objectives and organisational interests; and finally the inability of middle managers to run TQM effectively. Research limitations/implications - The findings suggest that the nature of middle management's orientation towards TQM and the degree of their supportive behaviour towards first line managers is affected by the senior management's orientation towards TQM and their supportive behaviour towards middle managers. Originality/value - The results reveal that the current practice of TQM can be characterised by inspection and quality control approach, a top-down process based upon a culture of procedure-dominated with a heavy bureaucratic base, and the dominance of senior management's unilateral control. Finally, the theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.
International Journal of Operations & Production Management