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TQM & Service Industries

Can the principles of total quality management (TQM) be applied to service industries? Originally developed for manufacturers, quality management has received much attention in recent years as a way for business to improve its productivity and profitability (Dobyns & Crawford-Mason, 1991, p. 4). This research examines TQM with an emphasis on its applicability to a service-oriented business segment, the hotel industry.

At the heart of successful TQM programs is the requirement that all employees at all levels of the organization be committed to the TQM process. In small organizations, getting all employees to be involved in the process can be accomplished through internal communications and training programs. The process is essentially the same in larger organizations, but because large organizations are more complex and pose more logistical considerations, problems can arise when a TQM program is implemented.

Any TQM program requires the commitment of the highest levels of the organization at the outset (Crosby, 1992, p. 13). Without this commitment, the organization cannot put the necessary resources into the TQM program, and the program will be destined for failure. Since TQM represents a major shift in the way that most companies do business, it is not an inexpensive process, nor is it a short-term program. Effective TQM programs will have a long-term effect on the way that the organization does business.

Implementing a quality program in the hotel industry is made more difficult because of the nature of the industry itself. Quality is subjective in the hotel industry, and can be measured in many different ways. At the most fundamental level, quality is measured by the number and types of customer complaints that a property receives, yet this is one of the most unreliable measures of quality in that what one customer finds objectionable, another may not.

Quality programs within hotels need to include all departm...

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