The TQM Paradox: Relations among TQM practices, plant performance, and customer satisfaction

Thomas Choi, Karen Eboch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

388 Scopus citations


We empirically examine a mediational model of TQM, in which TQM practices have a direct impact on customer satisfaction and an indirect impact mediated through plant performance. We adopt a survey approach using the data from 339 manufacturing companies. We first establish convergent validity, discriminant validity, and reliability of the constructs. We then examine the model using LISREL 8.10. The results suggest paradoxical relations among TQM practices, plant performance, and customer satisfaction. TQM practices have a stronger impact on customer satisfaction than they do on plant performance. Further, the plant performance, as described in the mediational model, fails to show a significant impact on customer satisfaction. This observation is explained based on an institutional argument that states that loose coupling may occur between TQM practices designed for customer demands and the activities on the plant floor designed for plant performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-75
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Operations Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1998


  • Customer satisfaction
  • Empirical research
  • Institutional theory
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Operation strategy
  • Performance
  • Quality
  • Supply chain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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