Leadership and organisational structure as requisite for Total Quality Management to improve academic quality in schools in Zimbabwe
The influence of leadership and structure in the implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM) has not received much attention in the leadership literature. The potential for integrating the leadership and structure literature with the TQM literature is great and is likely to be beneficial for both theory and practice. This study sought to theorise about the possible implementation of TQM, based on the use of leadership and organisational structure, to improve academic quality in schools in Zimbabwe. The study assumed subjectivist ontology and presented an interpretative epistemology. It employed a qualitative research design, and specifically, case study methodology. Participants were sampled through purposeful sampling. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews. These semi-structured interviews were audio recorded and the recorded interviews were transcribed. Data were analysed through ATLAS.ti (a qualitative data analysis software program). Codes were identified and organised into categories and themes, which were interpreted. In this study, it was found that agency and structure are directly linked to organisational structure and leadership in schools. The aforesaid are reflected through academic performance, expressed and measured as pass rate. It was found that trust and relationships with stakeholders were a prerequisite for academic quality improvement. Agency and structure were found to be potentially requisite if the leadership in schools were to implement all fourteen principles of TQM to improve academic quality. Findings also indicated that policies, work overload, mobility of teachers, resources and resistance to change were the factors that had the potential to derail the implementation of TQM so as to improve academic quality in schools. It was also found that a bureaucratic organisational structure was acceptable in schools; however, there were suggestions to change the terminology, policies and procedures, the level of centralisation of decision-making and the communication methods used in the schools. The researcher concluded that the leadership that uses its agency and structure to implement the principles of TQM, has the potential to improve academic quality in their schools. This is even more so given that agency and structure have been found to be directly linked to organisational structure and leadership through academic performance (academic quality). The researcher also concluded that the leadership that understands the organisational structure of their schools has the potential to influence academic quality improvement, since it is cognisant of its responsibilities. It was concluded that the leadership that uses its agency to make the bureaucratic organisational structures in their schools enabling, has the potential to implement the principles of TQM to improve academic quality. Trust and relations with stakeholders are thus a prerequisite in this process. It was further concluded that an agency-driven leadership, with structure playing a secondary role, influence academic quality improvement in schools positively. Agency and structure are therefore requisite if the leadership in schools are to implement all fourteen principles of TQM. Finally, the study concluded that time, policy issues, work overload, mobility of teachers, inadequate resources and negative attitude to change are some of the factors that may promote or inhibit the leadership as key to the implementation of TQM to improve academic quality in schools. Although a bureaucratic organisational structure has been found acceptable in the schools, it is concluded that the terminology, policies, procedures and centralisation and communication methods in schools should be changed to implement the principles of TQM to improve academic quality.
- Education