Quality management and system change in three suburban public school districts

Anthonia Adenike Obisesan, Fordham University


Quality Management (QM) is a problem-solving and systems approach to the change process that promotes communication among members and enhances leaders' commitment to continuous improvement, efficiency of operations, and increased productivity. Although QM of Deming has been successfully implemented in Japan as well as in the United States manufacturing industry, its potential for improving the educational systems has not been widely examined. Research suggests that the traditional ways of managing schools cannot help schools survive in the next century. This study used the qualitative method to examine the extent to which QM enhances system change through the analysis of implementation of the philosophy in three suburban public school districts in the northeastern part of the United States. Specifically, we: (a) assessed the impact of QM on the productivity and efficiency of the three school districts, (b) validated the potential of QM in sustaining systemic changes in school organizations, and (c) ascertained whether or not QM can be extended to meet the needs of other school districts. The study used a 3 x 6 comparative matrix case design and examined the leadership efforts and the implementation styles of QM, issues amenable to QM, analysis of communication and collaboration on the QM process, and the quality outcomes to assess the difference between the past and the present. The study covered a 12-month period and used interviews, observation and document analysis of the Miles and Huberman data collection, and the Strauss comparative method of analysis. The results indicate that: (1) QM influenced leadership motivation for change and fostered three different collaborative implementation styles. (2) QM was found to be adaptable to improving key school issues: human resource development, academics, discipline, budget, and socialization based on team efforts and problem-solving approach and practices. (3) It facilitated communication within organizations, including sharing of information through regular accountability, assessment, and planning team meetings. (4) QM team structure facilitated collaboration among different members, departments, and buildings that evolved into relationship development. (5) QM fostered teachers' expansion of knowledge based on collaborative experiences resulting in quality teaching: students' attitude change, high student achievement, and yearly increases in graduation rate. (6) QM helped people think to operate efficiently, resulting in improved budgetary management. Many taxpayers supported budget votes on a continuous basis. In conclusion, QM increased the districts' efficiency and productivity, and fostered systemic and continuous change. It also fostered other organizational systemic changes needed for the 21st century through adaptability, development of proactive capabilities, learning environment, and the generation of information. Collectively, QM enhanced a complete system change on a continuous basis. The study helped establish a baseline from which other school systems can start the implementation of QM. The evidence suggests that school leaders should be trained to use the principles of QM. It can help them meet or adapt the 21st century school improvement.

Subject Area

School administration|Management|Social research

Recommended Citation

Obisesan, Anthonia Adenike, "Quality management and system change in three suburban public school districts" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9839515.