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The use of a system dynamics approach for modelling maturity of Total Quality Management in Saudi construction firms

Algithami, S. M. (2017) The use of a system dynamics approach for modelling maturity of Total Quality Management in Saudi construction firms. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Managing quality in the construction industry is a challenge, especially in developing countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi construction industry has been criticised for poor quality-related performance. Some Saudi construction firms achieved ISO-9001 certification, but failed to maintain it, suggesting that Saudi construction firms struggle to sustain their quality performance. Considering the importance of the Saudi construction sector to the national economy, it is imperative for Saudi construction firms to improve their quality performance. Saudi construction firms need to look at a long-term sustainable quality management strategy in order to improve their overall quality performance. Total Quality Management (TQM) has been a subject of extensive academic and practical interest since the 1990s. However, most research focused on adopting a one-off and shortterm strategy for managing quality. TQM maturity was used in the research; it refers to an organization’s progression through incremental steps in quality improvement. System Dynamic modelling (SDM) was used to track firms’ progress through quality levels over time. Such models can track firms’ maturity towards higher TQM levels allowing them to make strategic decisions at different stages to speed up their progression towards a more mature TQM performance. The assessment of the maturity level of TQM in construction firms would help to recognise the areas of improvement needed to improve quality, and achieve the main organizational goals. This research involves investigating the complexities in the dynamic interaction and causal relationships between the aspects that Saudi construction firms must focus on (enablers), and the organizational goals related to quality management. The SDM technique evaluates this dynamic interaction, based upon the European Foundation for Quality Management, EFQM Excellence quality model. The EFQM model comprises five sets of enablers: Leadership, People, Policies & strategy, Partnership & Resources, and Processes. These five enablers affect the TQM performance (in terms of achieving TQM related goals) of the organisation. The components of the EFQM enablers were adapted to contextualise the EFQM model for the Saudi construction industry. Data was collected using two questionnaire surveys. The first survey was conducted with 43, ISO-9001 certified Saudi construction firms. This involved identifying the relationship between variables in the TQM maturity model. The second survey was conducted with 20 experienced individuals. The weighting for the enablers, specifically for the Saudi construction industry, was estimated in the second survey using AHP analysis. SDM investigated the dynamic interaction among variables in the model. Two case studies of the Saudi industry were selected to apply the simulation, and to investigate different policy decision interventions. The findings show that leadership is one of the key factors that can help Saudi construction firms achieve high levels of TQM maturity. This may be explained by the high-power distance culture of Saudi Arabia, which is top driven and centralised. The second most critical factor is the people focus. Focusing on people aspects is critical because of high levels of diversity in the Saudi construction industry, and the collectivist nature of Saudi culture. Consideration of these two enablers is likely to improve other enablers, as well as leading to an overall rise in Saudi construction firms’ ability to reach higher maturity levels. However, the impact of these two enablers only works to a certain extent; improving them beyond that level, shows no marked improvement in firms’ progression towards higher TQM maturity levels. Improvement in the initial value of other enablers also provides significant improvement in the firms’ ability to achieve higher TQM levels within shorter time spans. This research supports the case for using a system-thinking perspective when considering implementation of TQM in organisations. A holistic organisation wide approach is required for implementation of TQM. The research recommends adopting a sustained long-term approach towards implementation of TQM, which is likely to generate long term benefits. Despite any kind of policy interventions, there is a gap between the time when enablers are activated and when firms begin to realise the benefits of its TQM strategy. Firms must persist with their TQM strategy and consider the long-term benefits when making decisions to pursue a quality-focused strategy.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Flanagan, R. and Ballal, T.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Built Environment
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering
ID Code:78142

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