TQM, Chaos and Complexity

Kevin J. Dooley, Timothy L. Johnson, David H. Bush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Management practices of this century have been greatly influenced by Frederick Taylor's concept of scientific management. Taylor's theories can be traced to the paradigm of Newtonian mechanics. In recent years a new paradigm of scientific thought, complexity, has emerged. The premise of the paper is that successful TQM initiatives must borrow perspectives and approaches from both paradigms: indeed, one of the key challenges to quality management is to simultaneously balance the objectives of control and learning. This paper elaborates on the connections between the Newtonian paradigm, scientific management, and TQM; and between chaos and complexity, the learning organization, and TQM. Finally, some normative statements are given as to how TQM can evolve as a complex adaptive system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-302
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Systems Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Chaos Theory
  • Fractal
  • Paradigm
  • Quality Management
  • Self-Organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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