Introductory total quality management training and supervisor and subordinate ratings of supervisor task performance: a university administration setting

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to determine what effects introductory Total Quality Management (TQM) training, has on the differences in paired supervisor and subordinate ratings of supervisor task performance. I hypothesized the differences in ratings would decrease after the training.

This research was a quasi-experimental field study. My unit of analysis was established supervisor and subordinate pairs. Two established American university administrative offices provided the experimental (10 pairs) and control (6 pairs) groups. A Solomon Four Group Design was used; subjects were randomly assigned to pre-test; all other assignment was voluntary. There was no subject duplication. Each supervisor had a single subordinate and each subordinate had a single supervisor.

The treatment was a series of Deming Library videotapes followed by an open discussion over the course of three months. Experimental group participation in the treatment was mandatory but the response to the survey was voluntary.

The measurement instrument was broad: 118 task-related questions were clustered into 21 subscales based on previous work by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. A seven-point scale was used.

A separate random sample of people associated with the university identified instrument subscales of greatest importance to the supervisor-subordinate relationship. The subscales were leadership, communication, and supervision.

The primary analysis was a series of independent t-tests, comparing differences between paired differences. As anticipated due to the small sample size, few significant differences were observed. At post-test, a comparison of the supervisor and subordinate views differed. Experimental group subordinates tended to have more favorable views of their supervisors’ performance while control group subordinates’ ratings tended to be less positive than the supervisor's views. The experimental group seems to have weathered the budget cuts with a more positive outlook.