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The links between organisational learning and total quality: a critical review

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This paper investigates the possibility of combining the fields of organisational learning and total quality to produce combined concepts, methodologies, tools and techniques, which will give increased business benefits and employee emancipation. To focus the study the field of organisational learning is primarily limited to that of the learning organisation and total quality is taken as an umbrella term for a range of mechanistic change initiatives. A critical review of the definitions, historical contexts through the lens of critical theory reveals the underlying mechanistic organisational assumptions of total quality and the more organismic or people-related assumptions of the learning organisation. A conceptual case is then established for fundamentally integrating both methods to form a holistic framework from which integrated methodologies, tools and techniques can be devised. Two existing models are compared and contrasted to test the validity of the proposed conceptual case. The conclusion to the paper invites those working in the areas of the learning organisation and total quality to rise to the challenge and initiate the steps to create these transforming methods.
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Keywords: Employees; Empowerment; Organizational change; Organizational learning; TQM

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1998

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