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TQM's presence within legal systems: example of impact on Australian higher education

Fernando F. Padró (USQ College, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)
Karen Trimmer (School of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)
Heejin Chang (USQ College, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)
Jonathan H. Green (USQ College, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia) (Faculty of the Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 3 July 2020




The purpose of this study is to investigate the extent to which TQM has influenced the legal system in Australia, an area seldom investigated in the quality or legal literature.


Documentary and policy analysis of legislation, rules and rulemaking documentation based on a partial application of historical-policy analysis (HPA). Textual analysis was based on Dean and Bowen's (1994) definition of TQM and Vinni's (2007) review of new public management and Swiss (1992) “reformed TQM” concepts.


Australia's Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act of 2011 and supporting legal documents such as Guidance Notes include language reflective of TQM principles, providing evidence that present-day administrative law schemes include TQM practices and tools to undergird procedures of regulatory expectations (sometimes in the form of standards), monitoring and general operations. Oftentimes, it is the supporting legal documentation where TQM practices are found and operationalized.

Research limitations/implications

This is a proof-of-concept research study to determine the feasibility to identify TQM concepts within the existing language of legal statutes and supporting regulatory documentation. As such this study worked out the preliminary research challenges in performing this type of analysis.

Practical implications

Understanding TQM's impact on legal systems expands the system's perspective of organizations that do not always factor in the influence government policy has on organizational behaviours and outlooks. More specifically, understanding TQM's influence sheds insight on regulatory requirements imposed on a sector and the normative aspects of regulatory compliance that impact the operations and strategic planning of organizations.

Social implications

The article provides an example of how legal administrative rulemaking influences organizational operational and strategic activities to remain viable in the organization's business or industrial sector.


There are few research papers or literature reviews pertaining to the subject of TQM concepts embedded in laws and regulations, most of which date from the 1980s through early 2000s.



Padró, F.F., Trimmer, K., Chang, H. and Green, J.H. (2020), "TQM's presence within legal systems: example of impact on Australian higher education", The TQM Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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