Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Industrial Education and Technology

First Advisor

John C. Dugger


This study examines a Total Quality Management (TQM) initiative in which cross functional quality improvement teams were a key element. The study was conducted in a mid-sized manufacturing company located in the Midwest, using a qualitative research paradigm, during the spring and summer of 1995. The Carter Company (a pseudonym) had started the TQM initiative 24 months before the study began;Information about the Carter Company's TQM initiative was obtained through interviews with the management group, with members of two cross functional quality improvement teams, and with groups of employees who had not been members of a cross functional quality improvement team. There was extensive use of follow-up interviews to verify the researcher's understanding;The report traces the development of TQM against the backdrop of the impact of global competition on American manufacturing since the end of World War II. The basic concepts and philosophies of TQM are then reviewed in the context of the Carter Company's implementation. The experiences of the members of the two cross functional quality improvement teams provide a framework for reporting on how various groups in the organization perceived the TQM initiative;One purpose of this study was to investigate whether the use of cross functional quality improvement teams might serve to break down organizational barriers. The findings indicate that participation on such teams did result in increased levels of trust and understanding between team members from different departments. Other findings of this study include: (1) The TQM initiative was not effectively led. (2) The TQM initiative did not adequately address the needs of all the relevant stakeholders. (3) The TQM process itself was not appropriate for the Carter Company;From each of these conclusions, corresponding implications for other organizations are suggested. The most important of these implications is that organizations need to select the corrective action agenda that is appropriate to their situation, not blindly adopt programs that have worked for others;Recommendations for future research include longitudinal studies of organizational transformation initiatives that employ experimental research paradigms and the use of multi-disciplinary research teams, utilizing several different methods of data collection and analyses.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

James William Teegarden



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

203 pages