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Total Quality Management in the public sector: The University of Texas Quality Center.

The 90s, it is predicted, will be the "Decade of the Customer." If this is true, Total Quality Management (TQM) is likely to shape the business culture of the 90s. A business management philosophy, TQM aligns employee activities with the common focus of customer satisfaction, the goal being higher quality and lower cost products and services that respond more quickly to customer needs.


The quality approach first surfaced as an organized philosophy in the postwar Japanese business world. "A 1980 NBC telecast portrayed how an American statistician, Dr. W. Edward Deming, helped Japan become a major threat to American industry in the years after World War II. This broadcast is credited with launching the quality movement in America," according to Marna Whittington, Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania.

Frustrated with the slow adoption of TQM in the United States, six business chief executives challenged college and university leaders in the December 1991 Harvard Business Review, stating in an open letter: "We believe business and academia have a shared responsibility to learn, to teach and to practice total quality management. If the United States expects to improve its global competitive performance, business and academic leaders must close ranks behind an agenda that stresses the importance and value of TQM."

Answering that challenge on the local level, the University of Texas at Austin, the City of Austin, and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce founded the Greater Austin Quality Council in 1991. The Quality Council is a group of business, government, and educational organizations that promote the widespread use of quality principles in the workplace. The central involvement by UT Austin fulfills part of the public service mission of the university and continues its commitment to community service.

UT Quality Center

The University of Texas Quality Center (UTQC) is an outgrowth of Total Quality Management efforts on the campus over the past several years. As these efforts increased, then-President William Cunningham determined that a campus organization was needed to assist the implementation of TQM. The result was the creation of the University of Texas Quality Center in May 1992.

The primary point of contact between UT Austin and the Greater Austin Quality Council, the University of Texas Quality Center is designed to facilitate and support the implementation of TQM principles within the university and in the larger community.

In its first year of operation, the University of Texas Quality Center is concentrating on three main goals:

1. UTQC will provide appropriate training opportunities for organizations and organizational units as they begin to implement Total Quality Management in their operations.

2. UTQC will gather information for its clients, collecting, compiling, and maintaining resource data concerning TQM.

3. UTQC, in partnership with appropriate university, state, and community organizations, will develop a communication network to ensure that TQM-related information is shared and exchanged effectively.

As part of the UTQC agenda, the Center is offering workshops during the 1992 fall semester and will customize courses for clients as requested. These potential clients, as currently defined, include both UT Austin and the administration and component institutions of the University of Texas system. Other clients are the community of Austin--its educational organizations, Travis County governmental units, and business and industry--and the state of Texas, including its educational organizations, state and local governmental units, as well as selected businesses and industries.

Adapting Total Quality Management principles to UTQC clients' needs, our environment, and our state can help assure that the University of Texas remains a place that honors its responsibility to society and accepts its role as a leader.

Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe Vice President for Administration, University of Texas at Austin and Director University of Texas Quality Center and Ms. Michelle O'Reilly Associate Director University of Texas Quality Center


Figure 1 Four Principles of Total Quality Management

1. Pursuing continuous improvement. An organization should conduct an ongoing study of its processes and products. This involves making initial improvements, testing and then revising them based on further evaluation.

2. Managing by fact. Decisions should be based on reliable information.

3. Respecting people and ideas. The assumption here is that most workplace challenges are caused by problems in the system rather than by the people who operate within that system.

4. Satisfying those we serve. Customer expectations must be satisfied and, when possible, these expectations should be exceeded.

Source: University of Michigan
Figure 2
UTQC Selected Course Listings, Fall 1992
Course Title Desciption
TQM--What is it? Why Discusses the history, the basic
have it? principles, and the benefits of
 TQM, as well as leadership and
Changing the culture--how Designed for senior management.
to implement TQM Outlines steps to take in
 planning, implementing, and
 sustaining TQM in an organization.
Facilitating quality Covers the techniques and tools
improvement necessary to a succesful
 facilitator. Topics include:
 ground rules and operating
 procedures, roles and
 responsibilities, and effective
Managing service Focuses on successful strategies
excellence and techniques for implementing
 service excellence.
Benchmarking Explains the benchmarking process
 and methods for identifying
 oganizations to benchmark.

Figure 3 Selected Organizations Trained by UTQC, 1992

University of Texas Divisions

College of Engineering, Dean's Office Department of Electrical Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering Office of Student Affairs Senior Executives Bureau of Business Research School of Nursing Student Services Office, selected faculty and staff


State Comptroller's Office Texas Department of Health Texas Department of Insurance Texas Department of Transportation Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation Texas MHMR
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Sharpe, Edwin R.; O'Reilly, Michelle
Publication:Texas Business Review
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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