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B Riahi, PhD in Public Management, Director of Quality Systems at ISIRI, Executive Secretary of Iran Accreditation System, Secretary to National Quality Award
B Riahi, PhD in Public Management, Director of Quality Systems at ISIRI, Executive Secretary of Iran Accreditation System, Secretary to National Quality Award

New Theory of TQM in Iranian Public Sector (PS)

Part II

Challenges, difficulties and constraints of the application of the TQM in the Iranian Public Sector
Despite the above points, the application of TQM in our public sector could be harmful rather than helpful if not accompanied by thinking and respect for the TQM principles.

Illustration Due to certain aspects and specifications in the public sector, there are specific difficulties for establishing TQM in this sector. The most serious constraints to TQM in the public sector are as follows:

  1. TQM has initially been designed for usual processes such as production and since the public sector relies on duties compliance of TQM principles in the public sector faces certain challenges.
  2. Efforts for upgrading quality in the public sector are very complicated. The analysis carried out through opinion polls of customers show that public sectors are forced to pay attention to important dimensions such as availability of communications, efficiency, proficiency, politeness and discipline, creativity, reliability, responsiveness and security.
  3. Application of TQM in the public sector for reducing deviation of criteria in public sector is very difficult. In processes that are to be traced, because of services provided in a regular frame and apply for common customers, there is not a clear consensus about quality services.
  4. Defining the "customer" in the public sector is difficult and from a political point of view could be provocative. Public sectors have greater commitment to clients than answerability.
    The principle customers of these organizations are the public which are often forgotten.
  5. TQM depends largely on organizational cultures in which commitment to quality is necessary. To form this culture, managers in the public sector need to improve continually.
  6. Commitment of the top management to corrective action and employee participation in organizational processes is the quality manager's challenge in the public sector.
  7. Traditions and beliefs from the past are a barrier in the public sector for implementing TQM. The major elements in traditional economic control are budget and credit. The goal of the system is to allocate budget such as to control the public sector according to official regulations and political laws. This limitation of public sector for budgeting is a barrier for implementing TQM in the public sector.
  8. Exclusiveness and concessions in the public sector are also a barrier to TQM in public sector. In the exclusive approach, the customer has no right of selection and for this reason customers may not have any effect on the quality of services offered.
  9. Sectionalizing is another problem in implementing quality management in the public sector. Because of the vertical structures of the public sector, the cooperation between sections may be difficult or at times impossible in practice. The defect arising from this obstacle may be reduction of quality of services.
  10. Political pioneers and effects of groups are other barriers to implementation of TQM in the public sector.

Illustration In the public sector, managers seek the satisfaction of policy-makers and authorities. They think that their real customers are those who elect and appoint them. Hence, before thinking of people's satisfaction, they seek to satisfy the authorities. In fact policy-makers and government authorities decide what the public sector should do and what objectives they should seek.

Measuring service quality in public sector
Effort towards the use of models for the measurement of the quality of services in the private sector have been accepted and welcomed as important and critical indices for judging service quality in the public sector, measuring the degree of satisfaction of the citizens.

One of the limitations on research in the area of measurement of service quality in the public sector is to pay more attention to "customer satisfaction" and less to the identification of the customers' needs and requirements. In such a situation managers might ignore these requirements and take no action in this respect.

In exploration studies that have been carried out, the 7 following models for quality measurement have been identified that can be used for quality measurement in the public sector.


  1. Servqual Model
  2. CAF Model
  3. EFQM Model
  4. TOPS Model
  5. Charter Mark Model
  6. ISO 9000
  7. Parallel Score

Internal identification of administration system in public sector of Iran
Today, due to internal circumstances of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as international circumstances, an evolution in the administrative system of Iran is more than ever felt to be needed. Since a competent and qualified administration has an essential role in development programs, it should be considered as the most essential element for development.

Illustration A pathology of the executive management system of our public sector shows that this bureaucratic system lacks the participative spirit and involvement of the people, ignores its answerability to people, has no tolerance of criticisms, tends toward economic centralization, is not flexible where needed, gives priority to sectional resources and government bodies against the people's benefits, gives priority to relations over merits and criteria, is slow in function and operation, its laws and regulations are unstable, neglects the results of its duties, and shows a rigid behavior before clients, neglects the complaints and grievances as well as problems and distresses of its staffs and human resources, lacks feeling of responsibility, is low in productivity and cost effectiveness.

For these reasons the Management and Planning Organization recently reported to Supreme Council of Administration about the necessity of an evolution in the Administration System to ensure that it resolves the people's problems, provides the requirements of the society and the people, offers spiritual dimensions for service rendering with high quality as expected by the people, identifies the constraints and strong and week points as well as the reasons for the administrative system's shortcomings in the public sector. The said organization also has recommended to Supreme Council that in order to improve the service quality in the public sector, it should pay attention to these shortcomings and in order to overcome them prepare the grounds for the implementation of quality management and quality assurance in order to raise the people's level of satisfaction and standardize the way services are offered to the society. The Supreme Council of Administration approved this decision in its 89th meeting on 23rd June 2001 and the Secretariat of the Supreme Council in the meeting of 22nd August 2001 approved the Clause 4 of this regulation to be enforced. This research has tried to present a suitable model of TQM in Iran taking into account the nation's values and the requirements of Islam. In this research, the main question is what is the effectiveness of TQM model in the public sector due to Islamic values and criteria? The secondary questions will be as follows:

  1. Has TQM any effect on stability of religious believes and Islamic values?
  2. Has TQM any effect on increasing the satisfaction level of the people and citizens?
  3. Has TQM any effect on creating social investment?

In order to determine a conceptual research model as referred to earlier a worldwide study was performed on models presented by researchers and specialists of quality management in the public sector. The results show that there are 7 dimensions repeated in most views of scientists that may be called quality management dimensions of the public sector in the West:

  1. Flexibility in servicing
  2. Qualification of staff
  3. Speed in servicing
  4. Accuracy or suitability of services
  5. Transparency in informing the clients
  6. Beauty of the environment where services are provided
  7. Answerability with regard to the services provided.

Also in order to determine the expected effectiveness in the Western models the most important result gained from this study on TQM dimensions in public sector based on considerable values and culture of the West shows that the expected effectiveness in the Western models are as follows:

  1. Customer satisfaction
  2. Increasing of product and service levels
  3. Cost reduction
  4. Staff involvement
  5. Team system, systematic thinking
  6. Omission of bureaucracy.

Illustration By analyzing these 6 items and comparing them with Islamic values and the expected effectiveness in Iran, we notice that these 6 items rely on people's satisfaction as the first expected effectiveness and lay no serious emphasis on stability of ideology and Islamic values as well as on social investment. Hence it is necessary that in our conceptual model, we should take into account and distinguish the factors affected on the two mentioned clauses.

A deep study of religious criteria and ideological fundamentals, the Constitution and value that have roots in divine laws, as well as by studying the Prophet's traditions and the guidelines given by the 12 Imams we come to the conclusion that the followings should also be taken into consideration:

  1. Respecting the clients as a part of respect for human beings
  2. Offering services through considering for the values and beliefs
  3. Respecting the views and opinions of clients
  4. Observance of justice in providing services
  5. Having confidence in the people and clients.

TQM As a consequence, in the research conceptual model, apart from the five elements in relation to creating social investment and stability of Islamic and ideological values we must have the seven factors related to satisfaction of citizens emphasized in the effectiveness of the Western model. Then these factors, as conceptual research models are defined, adopted and analyzed. The conceptual research model mentioned earlier could be represented as in figure given below.

In this research, the statistical population comprised managers, supervisors and experts of five ministries located in Tehran that were selected for sampling, as well as the clients of these ministries. This study was carried out through the descriptive and analytical method. The effective factors on TQM were analyzed, and the relations between TQM factors and the expected effectiveness for determining their priorities were measured. The Management and Planning Organization's information resources and a random check showed what the volume of samples and the number of questionnaires should be and these were prepared and distributed. The first questionnaire type was designed specifically for managers, supervisors and experts, consisting of 40 questions that were aimed to measure the TQM dimensions in the public sector. Some 375 questionnaires were distributed of which 233 were returned.

Questionnaire no. 2 consisted of 11 questions for clients of the selected ministries. In this sheet the rate of expected effectiveness of TQM implementation in the public sector was measured. 380 sheets were distributed of which 233 were returned. The preparation of questionnaires in this research was regarded through translation and liquidization of TQM dimensions in the public sector, utilizing research documents and literature, benefiting from the Delphi technique and elementary distribution of questionnaires. Also, for the stability of questionnaires, first we distributed 10 questionnaires to managers of the statistical population and later collected these.

Illustration At a further stage, another 10 questionnaires were distributed. The answers received showed that the questionnaires had been arranged correctly. While the research results were designed based on voting from respondents in a 5-choice response format, for result analysis the non-parametric methods were used. Since the existing relationship between independent variables and TQM effectiveness in public sector were assessed, we used establishing and dependency test of x2 person as follows: Formula The dozen hypotheses and three kinds of expected effectiveness have been analyzed.

According to the results obtained from statistical analysis of 12 factors of expected effectiveness, if we intend to provide a suitable model for TQM in the Iranian public sector and due to values and ideological criteria, the following elements have high priorities. TQM

  1. respect for clients as part of respect for human beings: 1st priority
  2. flexibility and servicing: 2nd priority
  3. confidence in servicing: 3rd priority
  4. correctness in servicing: 4th priority
  5. staff capabilities: 5th priority
  6. regarding value and ideological concerns: 6th priority
  7. answerability in servicing: 7th priority
  8. respect for the clients' opinions: 8th priority

Hence the local model of TQM in the Iranian public sector would look as follows:

  • Local model of TQM in Iran's public sector
  • Respect for clients
  • Taking into account values and ideologies
  • Flexibility in servicing
  • Responsiveness in servicing
  • Confidence-oriented in servicing
  • Respect of value and belief in servicing
  • Correctness in servicing
  • Capabilities of staff
  • Expected effectiveness
  • God's satisfaction
  • Citizen's satisfaction
  • Stability of Islamic and ideological values
  • Creation of social investment.

to be countinued

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