This paper seeks to categorise the terminology currently in use within the quality management discourse. Aspirational definitions are studiously avoided, rather a critical perspective of the existing discourse is analysed. Three main terms are found to be most prominent in the current discourse, namely TQM, organisational excellence and business improvement. These terms are critiqued, compared and contrasted using a critical perspective and five point analysis framework. It is concluded that TQM has an established theoretical base on which enabling practice can be established. Dilution of this term could lead to yet more faddishness within the quality movement. Organisational excellence (OE) is currently a key stage on the TQM journey and is composed of contributions from various management discourses. There appears to be an emerging dynamic to develop OE beyond that of an aspirational stage point. Business improvement is considered to be a synonym for TQM, where omission of the word quality, especially in manufacturing circles, can be advantageous in that quality assurance connotations are avoided.
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