Purpose ‐ Previous research showed that there are some barriers which hinder the implementation of total quality management (TQM) in organizations. But no study has been undertaken to understand the interaction among these barriers and to develop a hierarchy
of TQM barriers model. There is an urgent need to analyze the behavior of these barriers so that TQM may be successfully implemented. This paper therefore, aims to understand the mutual interaction of these barriers and identify the "driving barriers" (i.e. which influence the other barriers)
and the "dependent barriers" (i.e. which are influenced by others). Design/methodology/approach ‐ In this paper, an interpretive structural modeling (ISM) based approach has been utilized to understand the mutual influences among the barriers of TQM. Findings
‐ In the present research work, 12 TQM barriers are identified through the literature review and expert opinion. The research shows that there exist two groups of barriers, one having high driving power and low dependency requiring maximum attention and of strategic importance (such
as lack of top-management commitment, lack of coordination between departments) and the other having high dependence and low driving power and are resultant effects (such as high turnover at management level, lack of continuous improvement culture, employees' resistance to change). Practical
implications ‐ The adoption of such an ISM-based model on TQM barriers in service organizations would help managers, decision makers, and practitioners of TQM in better understanding of these barriers and to focus on major barriers while implementing TQM in their organizations.
Originality/value ‐ Presentation of TQM barriers in the form of an ISM-based model and the categorization into driver and dependent clusters is a new effort in the area of TQM.