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1.1 Background to the study

Business is very important to the society because the society depends on it for survival. Business provides the society with commodities needed to survive for the purpose of making profit. Hence, it becomes indispensable to the growth and development of every society (Bhat, 2009). One of the aims of every business is to ensure customer’s satisfaction and as such must ensure the production of quality goods and services. Currently, it has been discovered that there is high rate of competition in the economy, and as such, businesses tend to strategize in different ways to survive in the business environment. The strategies adopted by firms are to give them a competitive advantage over their competitors and Total Quality Management (TQM) is one of them.

The concept of quality has constantly raised arguments, first on its definition, and secondly on its implementation. While one category of scholars see quality as a way of carrying out activities to the required standards and eliminating waste, others see it as a characteristic of a product or service that guarantees its acceptance over competitors (Porter, 1985). In this context therefore, quality has been defined as the positive worth of a product or service in relation to its conformance to requirements, suitability for use, and potential for ensuring satisfaction (Peter, 1987). Quality is measured by the ability of a product to meet standards and/or requirements. Manufacturing companies usually set the minimum standards of production but the demands of the consumer often dictate the requirements.

The quality of a product can be influenced by product design quality, product manufacture quality and product reliability. Also, quality of goods can be determined in terms of its durability (i.e how long it will last), efficiency (a measure of how well the product fulfills your requirements with available resources), price, after-sales support (an item that has a long warranty may represent greater value than one that does not have warranty). The Sale of Goods Ordinance “SGO” provides that goods must be of satisfactory quality, that is, taking account of any description of the goods, the price and all other relevant circumstances; the goods must fit for the purpose mentioned by the seller; the goods must be as described on the package, or a display sign, and, the goods must correspond with the sample. As such, companies tend to adopt the Total Quality Management (TQM) Strategy in order to meet up to the stated demands. The act of overseeing all the actions that ensure this conformity to requirements is referred to as “Quality Management”.

TQM is not restricted to Operations Management alone. It is a universal concept that has been found relevant in every aspect of management. TQM is a management philosophy that seeks to integrate all organizational functions (marketing, finance, design, engineering, production, customer, etc) to focus on meeting customers’ need and organizational objectives. It is a comprehensive management approach that works horizontally across an organization, involving all departments and employees and extending backward and forward to include both suppliers and clients/customers. Total Quality Management (TQM) is only one of many acronyms used to label management systems that focus on quality. It maintains that organizations must always strive to continuously improve these processes by incorporating the knowledge and experiences of workers.

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