Quality management is an approach to achieving and sustaining high quality products and services by focusing on the continuous improvement of processes throughout an organization in order to meet or exceed customer requirements (Flynn, Schroeder, & Sakakibara, 1994). Accountability measures in elementary and secondary education define and monitor quality in teaching and learning and perpetuate continuous improvement of the core processes of school districts. Similar mechanisms do not exist for support functions, which on average account for over 33% of district expenditures (Zhou, Honegger, & Gaviola, 2007). This study examined customer-focused continuous improvement efforts in five Minnesota public school districts by using survey research to gather perceptual data from 196 front-line workers in the following work groups: food service, operations and maintenance, human resources and business services, transportation, and administrative/other support. Survey items reflected the essential components of quality management as found in the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award's Criteria for Performance Excellence.
Data was used to examine participants' perceptions of quality management on the job in terms of leadership, data, planning, the workforce, work processes, stakeholders, and results. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to examine the relationship of these constructs in the support functions of elementary and secondary education as well as the applicability of the Baldrige model to this setting. Findings of the study were largely consistent with previous research using the Baldrige model in manufacturing, health care, and higher education settings. Key differences were also noted. The study makes an important contribution to the small body of literature on support service functions in elementary and secondary education and adds to the growing amount of research on quality management within organizations.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2009. Major: Work and Human Resource Education. Advisor: Theodore Lewis. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 176 pages, appendices A-F.
Olson, Lela Marie.
An examination of quality management in support functions of elementary and secondary education using the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award's criteria for performance excellence..
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