Kim, Daniel H., "Total Quality and System Dynamics: Complementary Approaches to Organizational Learning", 1990

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Total Quality (TQ) has received a great deal of attention in the business world in recent years. American companies, slow to enhance it at first, are joining in the TQ movement as they become convinced of its ability to enhance competitiveness. TQ is based on a philosophy and set of tools that focus on continuous improvement, and the fuel that drives the quality improvement engine is measurable data. TQ can be viewed as an effective means for advancing organizational learning whose current bag of tools are especially well-equipped to advance learning at the operational level. These TQ tools, however, are not as effective in dealing with problems that are ill-defined, where variables are fuzzy and hard to quantify or measure, where time delays are long, and where the system is loosely coupled but highly inter-related. These types of issues are precisely the ones for which system dynamics is well suited-- issues of a dynamically complex nature where feedback loops drive the behavior of interest. Complementing the TQ approach, system dynamics focuses on advancing organizational learning at the conceptual level. Organizational learning, however, requires learning at both the conceptual and operational level. This paper briefly lays out the background of both fields, compares their common holistic approach, and provides examples of possible integration of the two approaches to enhance organizational learning.

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  • 1990
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