The third generation total quality approach

Giorgio Merli (Senior Partner at Galgano & Associati Milan, Italy)

The TQM Magazine

ISSN: 0954-478X

Publication date: 1 December 1996


Proposes that it is possible to identify three phases in the development of total quality approaches. The first generation approach is focused on the continuous improvement activities. In the second generation approach, the management recognize that what can make a company truly competitive is the substantial, continuous improvement of its business process performance. The third generation approach is the “mature” phase of total quality. Total quality in these environments is considered to be a new, more effective way of doing business, and its mechanisms are used to obtain a more entrepreneurial style of management. This approach is based on the recognition that the competitive advantage of a business depends very much on its capacity to improve drastically its operating performance (“breakthroughs”), and that the improvement trend constitutes the discriminating factor between failure and success. This model has been adopted, so far, by a dozen multinational firms. The success which they have enjoyed is the main reason for explaining this method.



Merli, G. (1996), "The third generation total quality approach", The TQM Magazine, Vol. 8 No. 6, pp. 30-36.

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Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited

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