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Total Quality Management
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Is self-assessment (as a powerful
tool for total quality management
implementation) suitable in
the Middle East context? The
experience of a petrochemical
global company
Medhat A. Aly
Published online: 30 Nov 2009.
To cite this article: Medhat A. Aly (1997) Is self-assessment (as a powerful tool for
total quality management implementation) suitable in the Middle East context? The
experience of a petrochemical global company, Total Quality Management, 8:2-3, 54-59,
DOI: 10.1080/0954412979695
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0954412979695
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Is self-assessment (as a powerful tool for
total quality management implementation)
suitable in the Middle East context? The
experience of a petrochemical global company
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Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), PO Box 5101, Riyadh 11422, Saudi Arabia
The introduction of various quality awards has provided impetus for the implementation of
total quality management (TQM). Although self-assessment is a new phenomenon in the
West, its history goes back a long way, with the creation of the Deming prize in Japan nearly
50 years ago, and the formation of the Deming prize committee. The Malcolm Baldridge
National Quality Award (MBNQA) wasn’t introduced until 1987, followed by the European
Quality Award in 1988.
Zairi (1994) argues that self-assessment is essentially a tool for helping organizations in
a variety of ways, including for instance:
· providing the opportunity to take a broader view on how TQM is impacting on various
business operations;
measuring performance of processes, and enablers and their relationship with results;
measuring in ® nancial and non-® nancial areas;
measuring internally and externally, including the community and the environment;
encouraging objective assessment through third-party involvement;
providing the opportunity to benchmark and compare like for like;
measuring for improvement rather than for hard control;
creating the desire to do better and perhaps even win awards.
Self-assessment requires some rules for implementation: businesses need to consider the
strategic aspects, the effect of structure, culture and technology, among many other things
(Knorr, 1990). Self-assessment is also recognized for its power to enhance and in¯ uence
signi® cantly the total quality movement (Bergstrom, 1995). Some of the key drivers for
effective application of self-assessment are thought to include the following three factors:
(1) systems thinking;
(2) leadership commitment;
(3) customer requirements (Alonzo, 1995).
Others have suggested in addition to leadership and commitment, focus and alignment,
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Ó1997 Carfax Publishing Ltd
training, measurement and feedback, fun and creativity (Miller, 1995). Winners of prestigious awards such as the MBNQA tend to:
· gain synergy from diversity;
· champion two-way communication,
· create win± win partnerships;
· evaluate performance against best practices;
· decentralize to speed the decision-making process.
Types of self-assessment frameworks
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The Deming prize
The Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE), in recognition of Dr W. Edwards
Deming’ s contribution to the enhancement of industry quality in Japan, established the
Deming prize in 1951. The prize recognizes signi® cant achievements of distinction that have
improved performance of enterprises or divisions thereof through the application of company-wide quality control strategies. The prestige associated with the award is widely believed
to have in¯ uenced Western thinking on the subject (Kanji et al., 1992).
The Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award
The MBNQA was established in 1987 to promote the practices of quality management
within US-based companies. The award was seen as a standard of excellence to help promote
quality in the US and set high standards of competitiveness. The award was named after
Malcolm Baldridge who was Secretary of Commerce from 1981 until his death in July 1987,
in a road accident.
The European Quality Award
The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) was established in 1988 to
institute and administer the EQA. This move was supported by the European Commission
and the European Organisation for Quality. The principal objectives of the EFQM were
similar to the MBNQA. The ® rst ® ve categories are termed `enablers’ and are primarily
focused on people and processes within an organization. The last four are termed `results’.
The model which represents these principles is reproduced in Fig. 1.
Purpose of self-assessment
Self-assessment is about learning and improving the organizations strengths and weaknesses.
It provides the total organization perspective and everyone in the organization is directly or
indirectly involved with its outcomes. It also provides the balance between means and ends.
Thus ensuring suf® cient utilization delivers effective results.
The purpose of self-assessment is to:
· identify strengths in key processes;
· exploit potential areas of improvement;
· work on areas which need improvement;
· monitor the impact of appropriate action plans on a regular basis.
Self-assessment is a portable and versatile concept. It can be applied locally in individual
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M. A . ALY
Figure 1. The EQA model.
functions or throughout the whole organization. It is an organisation-wide exercise and
therefore calls on the contribution of all the key functions and the involvement of a
multi-functional group. It relies on objectivity, transparency and honesty. It is very much an
evidence-based approach and no judgement can be accepted unless it is supported by hard
facts and accurate information.
The interpretation of the inherent practices through self-assessment is left to the
individual organizations themselves. No one single organization has a monopoly on `best
practice’ and criteria of excellence can be interpreted through effective approach and
Most importantly, self-assessment develops a global business culture. It is increasingly
the most accepted business language and therefore provides big opportunities for benchmarking and comparing business performance and world-class standards.
Bene® ts of self-assessment
Bene® ts reported from winners of the Deming prize
Winners of the Deming prize have been reported to have similar characteristics, as follows
(Zairi, 1994):
· consistency in managing quality systems;
· focus on positive quality in terms of innovation, creativity and adding value to the end
· policy management based on long-term goals rather than yearly ® nancial returns;
· various methods for managing quality on a daily basis, e.g. seven new tools of TQM
and advanced statistical techniques;
· management methods catering speci®
cally for individual ® rms, climate, culture and
Bene® ts reported from winners of the MBNQA
Overall, all winners of the MBNQA have reported the achievement of great bene® ts from
self-assessment. A study which looked at 19 winners of the MBNQA between 1988 and 1993
by comparing their quality progress against business performance using a number of commercial indicators (Wisner & Eakins, 1994) concluded that all 19 winners boast signi® cant
achievements in the areas of customer service, production costs, product reliability, failure
rates and cycle time.
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Bene® ts reported from winners of the EQA
Rank Xerox Ltd (Europe) was the ® rst winner of the EQA back in 1992. It has over 26 000
employees in 40 European locations. Rank Xerox is a company which is often linked with
excellence and quality, and is quoted in most quality textbooks and major management
Design to Distribution (D2D) was winner of the 1994 EQA award. D2D is a contract
electronics manufacturer, and since winning the award, has signed several major contracts
with blue chip companies worth over US$200 million (Goodsell, 1995).
Other bene® ts
Other bene® ts reported widely through the literature and highlighted by research conducted
by the European Centre for TQM (University of Bradford) include among others:
· identi® es progress made against a model of business excellence;
· forms a sound detailed basis for consideration of strategic direction and prioritizing
future improvement activities;
energizes the people and teams within an organization to maintain their pursuit of
reinforces the link between enabling activities and excellence in business results;
provides a basis for successful benchmarking against other organizations.
The applicability of self-assessment in the Middle East context
A major research project was undertaken within a petrochemical global company situated in
the Middle East. The framework used was based on the EQA model because the company
concerned (Company A) found it to be useful for the following reasons:
· simplicity of language;
· comprehension of criteria
covering areas such as environmental issues and community-based activities which are vital in the Middle East context.
Company A has a large European base and the EFQM model was thought to provide
compatibility in language and access to the European best practice.
Approach adopted to the introduction of self-assessment
· General awareness on the ® eld of self-assessment.
· Comprehensive training for all af® liate companies involved.
· Preparation of data collection instruments.
· Guidance and support on general issues.
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M. A . ALY
Figure 2. Distribution of scores.
· Monitoring of scoring process and reporting writing.
Internal benchmarking analysis
· In all, 14 af®
liate companies took part in this exercise, with scores ranging from 123
to 653, with most in the 330± 430 range (123, 270, 339, 346, 359, 362, 386, 388, 405,
435, 500, 503, 545, 653).
· Individual submissions were analyzed from the point of view of area of strength and
areas for improvement.
· Consensus scores were registered.
· Aggregate af® liate scores of Company A in percentage were calculated (Fig. 2).
· Comparative analysis took place between each individual af® liate and Company A
corporate average score.
· Comparative analysis took place on all practices for all the 28 subcriterion of the
External analysis
· Samples of company winners and ®
nalists of prestigious quality awards representing
EQA, BQA and MBNQA were used to benchmark Company A af® liates’ performance
· Management practice covering all the individual items of the three external models
concerned were used to compare with those applied within Company A af® liate
companies (Fig. 3).
· Gap analysis of each af® liate was determined against each of the EQA, BQA and
MBNQA models.
· Overall gap analysis was established.
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Figure 3. Criteria against Company A median.
· Recommended action
plan was put together for each individual af® liate company,
covering areas of concern to them.
(1) The practice of self-assessment is very much applicable to the Middle East context.
(2) Cultural factors were not found to affect the use of self-assessment signi® cantly.
(3) Self-assessment can lead to a wide variety of bene® ts such as:
· consistency of performance measurement along the various sister companies;
· uni® cation of business language particularly in the case of Company A where there
is great in¯ uence coming from individual joint venture partners (i.e. European,
Japanese, American, etc.);
· opportunities to share internal best practice and extend the knowledge on a
corporate-wide basis;
· opportunity to benchmark against world-class standards and learn from the best;
· opportunity to build a sustainable approach to continuous improvement and
continuous learning.
(4) Self-assessment, from a quality perspective, is synonymous with the assessment of
business performance against criteria of business excellence. It brings a true
re¯ ection of `where the organization is’ in terms of its quest for quality excellence.
(5) In order to achieve world-class status and ambitious visions, self-assessment has to
be institutionalized to ensure that the spirit of continuous improvement lives on.
ALONZO, V. (1995) Winning strategies: blind spots, Incentive, 169, p. 87.
BERGSTROM, R.Y. (1995) Measuring to shape the future through quality, Production, 107, pp. 50± 51.
GOODSELL, D. (1995) Working hard at winning ways, European Quality Award Special Report 1995, pp. 24± 25.
KANJI, G., KRISTENSEN, K.K. & DALHGAARD, J.J. (1992) Total quality management as a strategic variable,
Total Quality Management, 3, pp. 3± 8.
KNORR, R.O. (1990) A corporate self-assessment checklist, Journal of Business Strategy, 11, p. 60.
MILLER, S. (1995) Smooth sailing for your quality program, Quality Progress, 28, pp. 101± 103.
WISNER, J.D. & EAKINS, S.G. (1994) A competitive assessment of the Baldridge winners, Total Quality Review,
4, p. 15.
ZAIRI, M. (1994) Measuring Performance for Business Results (London, Chapman & Hall).