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Understanding TQM implementation barriers involving construction companies in a difficult environment

Richard Stuart Dilawo (Off-campus Division, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)
Zahra Salimi (Off-campus Division, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 5 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors that affect TQM implementation in construction companies and it suggests solutions for TQM implementation in a difficult environment.


Studies were carried out at six large construction companies who ply their trade in Southern Africa and in-depth investigations were conducted to assess TQM implementation practices and associated TQM barriers. Interviews were conducted on directors and key personnel that play important roles in TQM implementation in their respective organisations. The empirical study also utilised a number of organisational documents which added rigour to the findings.


This study identified three core categories and ten main barriers affecting TQM implementation in Southern Africa construction companies. The core categories are motivation, infrastructure and penchants and tendencies while the factors are lack of quality support, poor TQM knowledge and TQM awareness, poor information sharing, temporary workers, overdependence on contract document, poor data collection measurement, undefined TQM roles and responsibilities, award to lowest bidder tendency, poor business environment and corruption.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted based on companies plying their trade in Southern Africa and mostly around Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. It does not study companies in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, South Africa and Botswana.

Practical implications

TQM cannot be exported wholly from another region to a new setting without taking into consideration the local factors associated with that setting. For successful TQM implementation in construction in Southern Africa, characteristics of this region have to be known. This study illuminates a number of TQM implementation barriers associated with construction especially applied to this difficult environment. Application of this knowledge would enhance TQM and heighten competitive advantage initiatives. The proportions highlighted in this study therefore help build up the TQM implementation awareness.

Social implications

At society level, the findings of this study indicate societal problems such as corruption and business environment which require wide level approaches to deal with these barriers. In addition, if TQM applied in road construction projects, the quality of the roads will be improved, this in turn will have direct impact on quality of life in the society, better roads means easier access to hospitals, schools and public places, better transport and movements of goods and services, etc. It can also save money for the country in long run and economic benefits to the society.


The factors identified in this study are based on current TQM implementation practices at established construction companies in Southern Africa. They provide a practical basis for guiding TQM in construction companies operating in difficult environments.



Dilawo, R.S. and Salimi, Z. (2019), "Understanding TQM implementation barriers involving construction companies in a difficult environment", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 36 No. 7, pp. 1137-1158.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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