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Twenty-first century Total Quality Management: the Emergence Paradigm

Everard van Kemenade (Van Kemenade ACT, Nuenen, The Netherlands)
Teun W. Hardjono (De Goudse School, Gouda, The Netherlands)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 30 November 2018

Issue publication date: 12 March 2019




The purpose of this paper is to present the framework of a fourth paradigm since the existing three paradigms in quality management are not sufficient anymore to understand what happened in the past and surely fail to understand what is happening at the moment and needed in future.


A literature review has been undertaken on different visions on quality management that are used. The underlying principles have led to three quality paradigms. Literature on quadrant models is studied to place the three existing paradigms and identify the possible characteristics of the fourth.


One can discern four quality paradigms in quality management: the Empirical Paradigm, the Reference Paradigm, the Reflective Paradigm and the Emergence Paradigm. The use of these paradigms differs according to the context. Together they form a concept of Total Quality Management. At the moment the Emergence Paradigm has not had enough attention although it might be the best equipped to find new ways of working for the organisations in the current context.

Research limitations/implications

In the literature review the authors selected seven journals in the Business Source Premier database: Total Quality Management (Total Quality Management & Business Excellence); the Academy of Management Review; Product and Operations Management; Organisational Dynamics; the Harvard Business Review; the Sloan Management Review and Organisational Behavior and Performance. In the advanced search mode the authors entered two subjects: “quality management” and “paradigm”. The selected results (in total 289 articles) were examined for its fitness for answering the questions above. That resulted in a selection of 26 articles that are being used in the literature review.

Practical implications

The Emergence Paradigm can be further investigated on its use for quality management in organisations in times of emergent change. Some first insights have been presented here.

Social implications

The Emergence Paradigm can have impact beyond the field of quality management.


The paper provides new insights in the essence of quality management in times of change and clarity on the usability of the thoughts and tools of four different paradigms in the twenty-first century.



van Kemenade, E. and Hardjono, T.W. (2019), "Twenty-first century Total Quality Management: the Emergence Paradigm", The TQM Journal, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 150-166.



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