Date01 December 2014
AuthorMendes, Luis
  1. Introduction

    A number of papers suggest clearly that the adoption of Total Quality Management (TQM) may be associated with more favorable work-related attitudes (e.g. Karia and Asaari, 2006; Sommer and Merrit, 1994). Based on such a perspective, the main purpose of this paper is to evaluate the existing relationships between concerns with TQM principles and some work attitudes in Higher Education, and to answer to the following question: Do organizations' concerns with TQM principles have positive effects on workers' attitudes and behaviors?

    It seems appropriate to analyze such relationships within the framework of higher education, since these institutions are characterized as autonomous (self-sufficient) establishments that provide services to the community (e.g. economic transfer of scientific and technological knowledge), and should comply with the codes of good management practices. Considering that collaborators' positive attitudes are generally associated, directly or indirectly, with a raise in productivity (Kinicki and Kreitner, 2006), the confirmation of the positive impact of TQM on collaborators' attitudes seems essential to higher education institutions (HEIs--universities, academies, or colleges). This study may allow HEIs to begin a greater effort towards the adoption of TQM principles, which seems particularly important due to the changes that occurred with the introduction of the Bologna Process in the educational system, as well as for the general uncertainty that is being felt worldwide, nowadays.

    Moreover, the lack of research focusing on the analysis of the influence of TQM on individual performance, and in work-related attitudes and behaviors, specifically in the framework of higher education, represents a significant gap in the literature. As a result, this paper may contribute to stressing the importance of such relationships in the organizational context, particularly in what HEIs are concerned.

    In the next section, the major theoretical assumptions underlying TQM and work-related attitudes and behaviors are described; based on 9 hypotheses, a research model is proposed to guide the further empirical research.

  2. Theoretical framework

    2.1. Total Quality Management

    More and more governments are concerned about quality and accountability of HEIs (heavily funded). As a result, such organizations are compelled to achieve high quality to be competitive in attracting students, and to be accountable for their performance (Kanji and Tambi, 1999). TQM was applied successfully in manufacturing companies in the early 1980s, and the success of several significant companies in applying TQM principles as a way out of the crisis, stimulated HEIs to follow similar management strategies.

    The initial efforts to implement TQM-based continuous improvement programs in higher education started in USA in the mid-80s. Since then, the number of US HEIs applying TQM principles rose significantly, and a number of European HEIs have also began to recognize the benefits of quality culture and quality continuous improvement for educational systems, and to turn to TQM, adopting quality excellence assessment approaches (e.g. EFQM excellence model) and/or standardized quality models (ISO 9001). Comparing newer versions of ISO 9001 requirements with EFQM excellence model principles, several common key elements may be pointed out, such as continuous improvement, customer focus, and leadership.

    Characterized as a continuously evolving management system, TQM is defined as 'everyone's mutual cooperation in an organization, and the associated business processes to produce valuable products and services that will match and, preferably, exceed the consumers' needs' (Dale, Van Der Wiele and Van Iwaarden, 2007, p. 4). Considering the large number of successes and failures in the application of TQM principles a lot of studies have focused on identifying those managerial issues that must be given close and continuous attention to ensure the success of the strategy, including: (i) top management commitment (e.g. Chowdhury, Paul and Das, 2007), (ii) leadership skills (e.g. Beer, 2003), (iii) customer focus (e.g. Boaden, 1996), (iv) open culture (e.g. Silaf and Ebrahimpour, 2003), (v) education and training (e.g. Prajogo and Cooper, 2010), (vi) employees' commitment and involvement (e.g. Bou and Beltran, 2005), (vii) team working (e.g. Prajogo and Cooper, 2010), (viii) benchmarking (e.g. Ruggieri and Merli, 1998), and (ix) employees' empowerment (e.g. Powell, 1995).

    2.2. Organizational commitment (OC)

    OC has received a special attention in the last decades, and several studies have been devoted to defining and operationalizing the concept, as well as to studying its antecedents and outcomes. Concerns regarding commitment in the workplace are still one of the main issues in such fields as human resource management, especially because of the numerous studies that found significant evidences of relationships between OC and attitudes in the workplace (e.g. Porter et al., 1974).

    Over the years, commitment has been defined and measured in many different ways. As a result, the lack of consensus in the definition of commitment contributed greatly to its treatment as a multidimensional construct (Meyer and Allen, 1991). The most extensively researched multidimensional model of OC is for sure the three-component model of organizational commitment proposed by Meyer and Allen (1991), based on the idea that the construct is composed of three different dimensions:

    (1) Affective commitment--reflects collaborators' affective attachment to the organization. Affective commitment 'refers to the employee's emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization. Employees with a strong affective commitment continue employment with the organization because they want to do so' (Meyer and Allen, 1991, p. 67).

    (2) Continuance commitment--exchange based view of commitment denoting the perceived costs that collaborators link to leaving their job. Continuance commitment 'refers to an awareness of the costs associated with leaving the organization. Employees whose primary link to the organization is based on continuance commitment remain because they need to do so' (Meyer and Allen, 1991, p. 67).

    (3) Normative commitment--refers to a perceived obligation to remain in the organization. Normative commitment 'reflects a feeling of obligation to continue employment. Employees with a high level of normative commitment feel that they ought to remain with the organization' (Meyer and Allen, 1991, p. 67).

    The perspective adopted in this research is the one proposed by Cook and Wall (1980), who stress that OC refers to collaborators' affective reactions to the characteristics of the organization they work in. According to the approach, OC is related to collaborators' feelings of connection with the organization's goals and values, to the role that they play in relation to these, and to the connection with the organization, with the aim of benefitting it, and not just for its instrumental value.

    2.3. Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB)

    From its inception until now, OCB has been approached by hundreds of research papers (e.g. Rego, Ribeiro and Cunha, 2010), and different terminologies have been used in literature to describe OCB (e.g. 'contextual performance', 'extra role behavior', 'prosocial organizational behavior', or 'organizational spontaneity'). OCBs are generally described in literature as discretionary and spontaneous behaviors that go beyond formal job requirements, and are difficult to impose or even promote.

    OCB has its roots in (i) Barnard's proposal (1938), according to which, collaborators' will to cooperate is indispensable for the organization, (ii) Kate and Khan's (1966) three types of behavior required for organizations' effective functioning, and (iii) Organ's (1977) essay, according to which people can adopt cooperative behaviors in order to respond reciprocally to work experiences that provide satisfaction, as opposed to behaviors inherent to roles, that depend on certain restrictions.

    Different taxonomies have been proposed; however, although most researchers agree on the multidimensionality of the construct, there is a lack of consensus about its dimensionality, and most of these taxonomies overlap with each other. One of the most important conceptualizations for theory development was the five-dimension taxonomy proposed by Organ (1988), identifying five different discretionary extra-role organizational behaviors:

    Altruism--behavior that concerns with the helping approach of organizations' collaborators who are motivated to help others in work-related problems, covering behaviors like helping voluntarily overloaded co-workers or new colleagues on their job assignments.

    Civic virtue--behavior that refers to concerns about the participation in the life of the organization (e.g. promoting organization's image). Podsakoff et al. (2000) explain that civic virtue represents 'a macro-level interest in, or commitment to, the organization as a whole', like 'willingness to participate actively in its governance [...] to monitor its environment for threats and opportunities [...] and to look out for its best interests [...], even at great personal cost'.

    Sportsmanship--collaborators' behavior that concerns with maintaining a positive general stance in relation to their organization, mainly when requiring selflessness or postponement of own interests in the benefit of organization's ones. Sportsmanship involves an 'inclination to absorb minor inconveniences and impositions accruing from the job without complaints or excessive demands for relief and redress' (Konovsky and Organ, 1996, p. 255).

    Conscientiousness--spontaneous behavior that goes beyond formal requests, related to accepting and following rules, regulations, procedures and standards, and generally involving characteristics like trustworthiness...

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