Quality management in higher education
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Financial, legislative, and competitive pressures in the 1980s caused many higher education institutions to pursue quality management, and the late-1980s and 1990s saw the adoption of quality management principles by a variety of public and private universities, community and technical colleges, and professional schools. Quality management tools and methodologies were applied to a variety of administrative and academic processes, and customers, e.g., students, alumni, employers. This research aims to determine the extent to which the quality management movement during the late-1980s and 1990s continued at three four-year public higher education institutions, and the factors that led to quality management being embedded or abandonment at these institutions. The three case study institutions are the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Maryland College Park, and Pennsylvania State University - University Park. Leadership theory and organizational theory conceptual frameworks were used to inform my research. The research results indicated that individuals with certain engaging trait, participative, and transformational leadership styles may be more successful in implementing and sustaining change initiatives such as quality management. In addition, change initiatives may experience greater success and sustainability in collegial organizations than bureaucratic and political organizations. The research results also identified five additional factors contributing to quality management being embedded in the three institutions. The research suggests that external influence (business, industry, governing entities, legislative, public, etc.) may have a positive and/or negative effect on a quality management initiative, and care should be taken to consider but not primarily let external influences drive the strategy of the quality management initiative. Adapting the language and methodologies of quality management to various campus constituents may reduce apprehension and enhance acceptance of quality management. In addition, the research results suggest that creating an internal department that supports the organization’s quality management activities facilitates the implementation and continuation of quality management. The inclusion of quality management principles in the strategic planning process and as a strategic initiative communicates organizational commitment, and emphasizes its strategic importance. Finally, the research results suggest that developing and assigning responsibility of key performance measures and an organizational culture of assessment to drive accountability and measure progress may help quality management endure.