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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 109 (2014) 600 604

2nd World Conference On Business, Economics And Management WCBEM 2013

Explanatory study towards analysis the relationship between Total

Quality Management and Knowledge Management
Zahra Safari Kahreha, Alireza Shirmohammadib, Mohammad Safari Kahrehc*

Department of Management, Bakhtar Institution of Higher Education of Ilam, P.O.Box: 69531-13433, Ilam, Iran
Department of Industrial Management, Payam Noor University, P.O.Box: 19395-3697, Tehran, Iran
Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, P.O.Box: 199776-3551, Tehran, Iran

To meet the challenges of the new global environment, companies have started great attentions toward quality management as an
integral part of their strategic business plans. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between Total Quality
Management and Knowledge Management. Successful Total Quality Management implementation in throughout the
organizations requires major changes in the main four aspects of knowledge management namely: Creating, Storage, Sharing and
Application. To evaluate the conceptual research model of this study, using a validated questionnaire data has been gathered.
Required data has been gathered from one of the organizations that participated in the banking industry. For data analysis, SPSS
software has been used. The research conceptual framework after data analysis demonstrates the basic relationships of this

2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer review under responsibility of Organizing Committee of BEM 2013.
Keywords: knowledge management (KM), total quality management (TQM), explanatory research;

1. Introduction
With respect to the past two decades, the shortage of knowledge showed itself twice: first when many of the
employees have been fired due to downsizing and consequently most of required knowledge were not remind in the
organization, second when robots was supersede of human labor in the production lines subsequently organizational
flexibility was removed. Knowledge capacities are including: speed, complexity, historical sense, judgment and
flexibility that are exactly required tools for successful attendance in competitive developing global economic. TQM
can be defined as a holistic management philosophy, which strives for continuous organizational improvement
(Kaynak, 2003).
Thus the main purpose of this research is: the analytical explanation the relationship between total quality
management and knowledge management. Based on this main research purpose, the essential research question of
this study is: What is the relationship between four basic dimensions of knowledge management and total quality

* Corresponding Author: Mohammad Safari Kahreh. Tel.: +98-918-945-1204

E-mail address: m.safari@ut.ac.ir

1877-0428 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer review under responsibility of Organizing Committee of BEM 2013.


Zahra Safari Kahreh et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 109 (2014) 600 604

2. Literature Review
2.1. Knowledge Management
Just like knowledge itself, knowledge management is difficult to define (Earl, 2001, p. 215). The working
definition of knowledge is that Knowledge must involve an agent, who uses knowledge to perform actions necessary
to reach a goal. Knowledge can and should be evaluated by the decisions or actions to which it leads (Davenport and
Pruzak, 1998). However, defining what knowledge management understands may be somewhat simpler than
defining knowledge on its own. The idea of management gives us a starting point when considering, for example,
the activities that make it up, explaining the processes of creation and transfer or showing its main goals and
objectives without the need to define what is understood by knowledge. Consequently, in literature there are more
ideas and definitions on knowledge management than just on knowledge, although these are not always clear as
there are numerous terms connected with the concept (Lloria, 2008). Table 1 shows the most basic paradigms of
knowledge management.
Table 1. Paradigms of knowledge management
Old paradigm
Organization discipline
Vicious circles
Inflexible organizations
Management administrators
Distorted communication
Strategic business units drive product development
Strategic learning occurs at the apex of the organization
Assumption that most organization members are untrustworthy
Most organization members are disempowered
Tacit and local knowledge of most members of the
organization must be disciplined by managerial prerogative

New paradigm
Organizational learning
Virtuous circles
Flexible organizations
Management leaders
Open communication
Core competences drive product development
Strategic learning capacities are widespread
Assumption that most organization members are trustworthy
Most organization members are empowered
Tacit and local knowledge of all members of the organization is the
important factor in success, and creativity creates its own
Source: extracted from: Lloria, (2008, p. 81); Adapted from McAdam & McCreedy (1999, p. 94).








Figure 1. Framework of knowledge management (adapted from: Safari Kahreh, 2011)

Shin (2004) introduces a five cluster KMS classification: technological, intellectual asset, organizational learning,
process and philosophical. These approaches can be classified into two broad types: soft and hard. The soft type is
mainly focused on tacit knowledge and on the difficulties in sharing it between people. The hard type is focused on
developing tools for storage and distribution of explicit knowledge (Massa, Testa, 2009). The experience and
judgment aspects of KM reflect the tacit or implicit knowledge, which is difficult to capture and formalize
(Bonner, 2000), in and other hand (Shin, 2004) argue that. Explicit knowledge is codified and communicated in
symbolic forms or languages, while tacit knowledge resides in individuals experiences and actions.
According to the main researches in the literature the term Knowledge Management (KM) has been defined in a
number of ways. Knowledge management is the process of continually managing knowledge of all kinds to meet


Zahra Safari Kahreh et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 109 (2014) 600 604

existing and emerging needs, to identify and exploit existing and acquired knowledge assets and to develop new
opportunities (Quintas et al., 1997).
Specific framework to capture, acquire, organize, and communicate both tacit and explicit knowledge of
employees so that other employees may utilize them to be more effective and productive in their work and maximize
organizations knowledge (Leidner, 1999). To add value with knowledge management, we need knowledge
management systems (KMS), which facilitate the generation, preservation and sharing of knowledge (Bonner,
2000). Some of the common applications of knowledge management systems are: (1) organizing and
sharing/transferring of internal benchmarks/best practices; (2) constructing corporate knowledge directories, such as
corporate yellow pages, people information archive; (3) creating knowledge networks and knowledge maps; among
many others (Alavi, 2001). Some of study has analyzed the various management techniques proposed and described
in the literature that seem applicable to knowledge management (e.g., Dieng et al., 1999; Kannan & Aulbur, 2004).
Much of this sensemaking seeks to frame knowledge management research.
2.2. Total Quality Management
TQM is widely recognized as a management philosophy. Numerous controversies exist regarding the elements
proposed by different researchers and professionals in relation to TQM. These elements do not fully coincide, and
not all such fundamentals that compose the TQM theoretical framework can be called TQM without management
factors being implemented in the organizations where they are based (Montes et al., 2003). TQM focuses on
continuous process improvement within organizations to provide superior customer value and meet customer needs.
Meeting customer needs involves company operations focused on understanding, sharing, and responding to
customers through marketing concept. Firms adopting and implementing the marketing concept are said to display a
market orientation (Wanga and et al (2012). TQM provides a set of practices that emphasizes, among other things,
continuous improvement, meeting customers requirements, reducing rework, long-range thinking, increased
employee involvement and teamwork, process redesign, competitive benchmarking, team-based problem solving,
constant measurement of results, and closer relationships with suppliers (Crosby 1984; Juran, 1992; Feigenbaum
TQM practices emerged as an increasingly fashionable management innovation in response to the lack of
competitiveness in US manufacturing industries during the 1980s and the perceived superiority of Japanese firms in
delivering high quality products and services in accordance with customer demands and achieving operational
efficiency (Giroux, 2006; Modell, 2009). TQM practices have been implemented by firms interested in promoting
their survival prospects by incorporating quality and continuous improvement into their strategic priorities (Lord and
Lawrence, 2001; Hoque, 2003). TQM practice is said to follow a set of management concepts and tools that seek to
involve managers and employees in achieving continuous performance improvement (Hogg, 1993; Shank and
Govindarajan, 1994; Johnson, 1994; Powell, 1995; Boaden, 1997; Chenhall, 1997; Zbaracki, 1998; Hoque, 2003).
Wruck and Jensen (1994) argue that Effective implementation of TQM generally requires major changes in all three
components of the organizational rules of the game, namely systems for allocating decision rights, performance
measurement systems, and reward and punishment systems. TQM enhances the profitability of companies when
managers are evaluated by using performance evaluation systems that employ measures of the manufacturing
process (Chenhall, 1997). Adapting from Arawati et al (2010) many of the researcher such as; Powells (1995);
Saraph et al. (1989); Deming 1995; Walton 1986; Juran, 1992; Crosby 1984; and others- has identified four
important elements of TQM practices namely:
Supplier Relations: that is an interactive relationship between parties involved in producing an output
that require an input from another
Benchmarking: refers to the researching and the observance of best Competitive practices to provide a
guideline for rational performance goals and to help set expectations for cost, product reliability and
other factors.
Quality Measurement: is a goal-orientation with constant performance measurement, often with the use
of statistical analysis.


Zahra Safari Kahreh et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 109 (2014) 600 604

Continuous Process Improvement: refers to accomplish by placing emphasis on the processes by which
quality improvements are achieved. In a typical organization, there are interrelated processes: design,
manufacturing, marketing and customer service.

2.3. Research Hypotheses

H1: the first step of knowledge Management namely "knowledge Create" is positively related to Total Quality
H2: the first step of knowledge Management namely "knowledge Storage" is positively related to Total Quality
H3: the first step of knowledge Management namely "knowledge sharing" is positively related to Total Quality
H4: the first step of knowledge Management namely "knowledge Application" is positively related to Total
Quality Management.
3. Methodology
This research is descriptive Research that aims to investigate the relationship between knowledge management
basic elements and total quality management. After related literature review by using a questionnaire required data
has been gathered from one of the organizations that participated in the banking industry. Then by using the SPSS
software the data has been tested and analyzed. Cronbachs Alpha Coefficient was used to measure reliability. The
Cronbachs Alpha calculated for this research was 0.79 that is more than the mean acceptable alpha. Hence, the
questionnaire is reliable (a> 0.7).
4. Findings
Using researchs statistical software, the correlation test has been implemented to demonstrate the basic
relationships in this research. Table 2 shows the results of data analysis for test the research model. Successful Total
Quality Management implementation in throughout the organizations requires major changes in the main four
aspects of knowledge management namely: Creating, Storage, Sharing and Application. Figure 2 shows the basic
relationships between main dimensions of knowledge management and total quality management. These
relationships are presented the research hypotheses that represent the main research purpose.

Knowledge Management








Figure 2. Results of correlation analysis test for research conceptual framework



Zahra Safari Kahreh et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 109 (2014) 600 604

5. Conclusion
This research aimed to investigate the relationship between basic elements of knowledge management including:
Creating, Sharing, Storage and Application with the total quality management (TQM). Knowledge management
(KM) comprises a range of strategies and practices used in an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute,
and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either
embodied in individuals or embedded in organizations as processes or practices. Also, Knowledge Management
(KM) refers to a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of
knowledge. KM focuses on processes such as acquiring, creating and sharing knowledge and the cultural and
technical foundations that support them. After data analysis results showed that there are positive and high
relationships between KM elements total quality management. The results of this research are consistent with
previous studies.
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