Development of the quality management concept

Quality management is a concept which emerged in the 1980s. It was inspired by the discussion groups found in Japanese companies. 

The term quality management is fairly new, and in fact only became a management function quite recently. At a time when products were still manufactured by craft trades, craftsmen alone assumed responsibility for their work. It was not until the end of the 19th century that work processes were divided up among several individuals on account of the rationalization and division of tasks, conferring the responsibility for quality on a specific control company. Quality control was limited to monitoring outputs of mass merchandise produced industrially. 


In the 1960s and 1970s, the focus shifted to the production process itself. Quality criteria were then applied to the structure of the organization, processes and management. Quality management owes its popularity to the emergence of quality circles in Japan. The quality circle model makes it possible to regularly bring together a small group of employees with a view to analyzing problems and making potential improvements in the sector. 

Management systems

In the 1980s, quality standards were finally introduced for management systems. It is entirely thanks to Total Quality Management (TQM) that quality management has become the responsibility of the company's management. TQM describes a vast operation of regular and continuous control, applied to all sectors of an organization with a view to introducing quality as a system objective and guaranteeing it in the long term. The European Foundation for Quality Management then created the EFQM standard, a model based on TQM for quality management according to European requirements. 

New Public Management

The ISO 9000 quality standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is also well-known. Quality management based on these standards covers a scope including quality planning, guidance, assurance and improvement. Since the 1990s, systematic quality management has also been applied within non-industrial companies. The wave of certification has notably entered the area of administration. This reform has become known as “New Public Management” (NPM) and has been introduced into most European countries.

Source: Curaviva, 6/2014.

Last modification 20.02.2020

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