Total Quality Management and other structural management approaches again exert direct control form the top down on each of the various departments and activities of the organization. This direct approach allows for a total and coordinated plan to be implemented, and has the advantage of being able to implement separate changes in each department/activity, leading to a possibility of more drastic changes and reversals (Kovel-Jarboe 1996). This approach also as the disadvantage, however, of unpredictability when such drastic changes are implemented.
The systems theory approach to management does a lot to mitigate this unpredictability in assessing how changes in one part of an organization will affect each of the others; overall organizational change in systems theory can result from more subtle shifts in certain dynamic areas of the organization, which will necessarily have an effect on the other parts of the organization (McNamara 2009). Systems theory, in fact, could be seen as providing a framework for constant organizational change through an evolutionary process, as adjustments are continually made in response to changes in other parts of the organization (or system) adding up to a more total organizatioanl change over time (McNamara 2009). The larger changes that are usually referred to by the term “organizational change” can also be consciously effected in an application of systems theory, of course.
The Union of Organizational Change and Quality Improvement
Organizational change and quality improvement can be tackled at the same time most effectively with the systems theory approach. Top Quality Management and other structural managerial theories are excellent at providing direct changes and results, but these often require continued adjustment in the long-term, following the period of major change (Kovel-Jarboe 1996).
Systems theory, on the other had, predicts precisely this type of ongoing change, and the periods of more dramatic change when undertaken in a systems framework will necessarily have less direct but more deeply rooted effects on the organization and its quality output (McNamara 2009). The entire organization and system are likely to be more fundamentally altered when changes are made using a systems theory approach, meaning that despite the constant evolutionary change that such a perspective sees at work in a given organization, this approach actually creates more stability by minimizing the degree and decreasing the likelihood of major organizational shifts.
Both Top Quality Management and systems theory have positives and negative in regards to deploying quality improvements and implementing organizational changes. The two theories are not mutually exclusive, however, and it is possible that a combination of the two perspectives is truly the most effective approach to these situations. A holistic view of the organization that allows for direct influence and change will be both stable and responsive, both of which are key to success.
Kovel-Jarboe, P. (1996). “Quality improvement: a strategy for planned organizational change.” Library trends. Accessed 28 October 2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1387/is_n3_v44/ai_18015826/
McNamara, C. (2009). “Brief Overview of Contemporary Theories in Management.” Free management library. Accessed 28 October 2009. http://managementhelp.org/mgmnt/cntmpory.htm.