A total quality management methodology for universities

Jose Carlos Flores-Molina, Florida International University


This research document is motivated by the need for a systemic, efficient quality improvement methodology at universities. There exists no methodology designed for a total quality management (TQM) program in a university. The main objective of this study is to develop a TQM Methodology that enables a university to efficiently develop an integral total quality improvement (TQM) Plan. Current research focuses on the need of improving the quality of universities, the study of the perceived best quality universities, and the measurement of the quality of universities through rankings. There is no evidence of research on how to plan for an integral quality improvement initiative for the university as a whole, which is the main contribution of this study. This research is built on various reference TQM models and criteria provided by ISO 9000, Baldrige and Six Sigma; and educational accreditation criteria found in ABET and SACS. The TQM methodology is proposed by following a seven-step metamethodology. The proposed methodology guides the user to develop a TQM plan in five sequential phases: initiation, assessment, analysis, preparation and acceptance. Each phase defines for the user its purpose, key activities, input requirements, controls, deliverables, and tools to use. The application of quality concepts in education and higher education is particular; since there are unique factors in education which ought to be considered. These factors shape the quality dimensions in a university and are the main inputs to the methodology. The proposed TQM Methodology is used to guide the user to collect and transform appropriate inputs to a holistic TQM Plan, ready to be implemented by the university. Different input data will lead to a unique TQM plan for the specific university at the time. It may not necessarily transform the university into a world-class institution, but aims to strive for stakeholder-oriented improvements, leading to a better alignment with its mission and total quality advancement. The proposed TQM methodology is validated in three steps. First, it is verified by going through a test activity as part of the meta-methodology. Secondly, the methodology is applied to a case university to develop a TQM plan. Lastly, the methodology and the TQM plan both are verified by an expert group consisting of TQM specialists and university administrators. The proposed TQM methodology is applicable to any university at all levels of advancement, regardless of changes in its long-term vision and short-term needs. It helps to assure the quality of a TQM plan, while making the process more systemic, efficient, and cost effective. This research establishes a framework with a solid foundation for extending the proposed TQM methodology into other industries.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Industrial engineering

Recommended Citation

Flores-Molina, Jose Carlos, "A total quality management methodology for universities" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3472050.