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Learning from criticisms of quality management

Gilles Barouch (Department of Operation Management and Information Systems, Kedge Business School, Talence, France)
Stéphane Kleinhans (Department of Operation Management and Information Systems, Kedge Business School, Talence, France)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Article publication date: 15 June 2015




This paper aims at summing up the main criticisms concerning quality management (QM) in order to address them through objective arguments or extant research. Since its diffusion in the Occident in the 70s, QM gained as much approvals as criticisms. Therefore, with 40 years distance, it seems useful to sum up the main criticisms addressed to QM, to present a synthesis of the answers provided by researchers to these criticisms and to propose extant research when it appears that some criticisms have not received yet the adequate response.


This paper is based on a literature review.


This paper comes up with a list of the main criticisms addressed to QM. Then, main causes of criticisms are identified: ignorance of QM, confusion concerning QM definitions and theory and misuse of QM by senior managers. At last, QM organizational solutions are proposed which answer most expressed criticisms. Extant research tracks are considered for those relevant criticisms which have not been sufficiently addressed until now.

Research limitations/implications

Further research will look into depicting a survey conducted among QM professionals concerning QM criticisms in their organization and confronting them to these academic results.


This paper actualizes and completes Giroux and Landry’s (1998) article which dealt extensively with QM criticisms. Professionals will find in this paper answers to most criticisms against QM and a better understanding of the present limits of this discipline. Researchers will be provided with a state of the art concerning this sensitive topic, allowing them to go deeper in the fields that require special attention.



Barouch, G. and Kleinhans, S. (2015), "Learning from criticisms of quality management", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 7 No. 2/3, pp. 201-216.



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