Purpose – The objective of this research is to develop and describe a conceptual framework of corporate ethics in total quality management (TQM).
Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on a summarised in-depth and longitudinal case illustration. The summarised case describes corporate ethics in an intra-corporate relationship.
Findings – TQM requires human resources and failing to care for them will affect accordingly the success of TQM. The case description illustrates the evolution of management versus employee expectations and perceptions of corporate ethics. It has an emphasis on the human resources of a company that strives towards TQM. As the quality of corporate ethics decreases the outcome of TQM is also affected (i.e. directly or indirectly). The case is initialised in an atmosphere of management and employee optimism and positivism of corporate ethics, which is a requisite from both parties in order to ensure prosperous TQM. The successive change towards pessimism and negativism of corporate ethics in the intra-corporate relationship concludes the in-depth case description.
Research limitations/implications – Four parameters of corporate ethics are used to incorporate corporate ethics into TQM, namely management versus employee expectations and perceptions. Internal corporate quality management should always be regarded as dependent upon the achieved equilibrium between management and employee perceptions. It is also dependent upon the derived equilibrium between management and employee previous expectations.
Practical implications – An important insight of this research is that TQM requires the continuous attention to the management versus employee expectations and perceptions inherent in corporate ethics of internal business operations. Furthermore, corporate ethics is complementary to business ethics.
Originality/value – The case description has shown that TQM may be running well and accomplishing the hard goals. However, TQM is not only about figures, profits and costs. It is also a business approach that should penetrate all activities inside and outside that are related to the company, including the soft issues.
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