Total quality management in higher education: How to approach human resource management

George Holmes, Gerard McElwee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Presents the view that total quality management in higher education institutions, and the development of a so-called managerialist ideology, has led to the inevitable adoption of an approach to human resource management (HRM) policy and practice which is functionalist. Asserts that the criteria favoured by managerialism represented by TQM is not only inappropriate in higher education but that, more importantly, it limits the productive activity of individuals. This limitation occurs to the extent that, at the level of the individual “academic” in higher education organizations, quality control and assurance which has traditionally been a localized process of self and close peer review, has become formalized by externally imposed systems and procedures; a necessary condition under the current funding arrangements for enabling internal quality assurance systems to meet the requirements of external agencies. Suggests that only a truly professionalizing, “soft”, individualistic and user-focused collegial culture will provide a sufficient condition for total quality enhancement to become reality. Provides a summary of the rapidly changing nature of higher education organizations (and the conditions they face) with specific reference to the new university sector in the UK. Reviews the recent literature on human resource management (HRM). Offers recommendations for strategic managers and those invested with responsibility for quality in the new universities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-10
Number of pages6
JournalThe TQM Magazine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes


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