An examination of the barriers to application of the management theories of W. Edwards Deming



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Texas Tech University


W. Edwards Deming, recognized as the leader of modern Japanese management methods, drew widespread attention from U.S. leaders in the private and public sectors beginning in the 1980S. His theories of management, which offered to improve productivity by enhancing the quality of products and services, were promulgated through well-attended seminars and through extensive media exposure. Yet, many of his central premises have not been applied in the U.S.

This dissertation explores the historical and sociocultural barriers to the application of Deming's theories. This exploration reveals acceptance of Deming's theories is impeded by historical artifacts, ingrained management assumptions, and post-modern conditions that include lack of a common language with which to assess organizational change. The resultant theoretical incoherence is illustrated by comparing Deming theories with applications of Quality Management variations and with the Clinton Administration's National Performance Review.