Date of Award

Winter 1993

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Frederick Steier

Committee Member

Laurence D. Richards

Committee Member

Resit Unal

Committee Member

Kae Chung


American industries are in the process of a quality revolution. Most companies are busy implementing Total Quality Management (TQM) programs. However, the experience of both Japanese and American companies indicates that successful TQM implementation depends on an understanding of implementation processes, which itself relies on an understanding of organizational self-organizing, for it is through this process that TQM gets diffused and becomes a core component of an organization's culture. Self-organizing is a so-called process-oriented approach, based on theory from cybernetics (Ashby, 1962; Steier & Smith, 1985; von Foerster, 1960), dissipative structure theory (Prigogine & Stengers, 1984), and chaos theory (Gleick, 1987). As developed in this research, the concept "self-organizing" is extended into the study of TQM implementations, focusing on the diffusion mechanisms of TQM into human organizations, called the organizational self-production model.

It is submitted that the organizational self-production process consists of four interrelated mechanisms: participation, involvement and interaction; reflection and interpretation; generation of organization-self knowledge; and action under that knowledge. In this research, this process is measured in five dimensions: participativity, individuality, interdependability, informationality, and accountability. Empirical results collected in this research indicate that the organizational self-production perspective yields new and interesting insights. Both content analysis of interviews and statistical analysis of surveys demonstrate that the five dimensions provide useful variables for organizational research, yielding positive correlations with both operational and cultural indicators of TQM diffusion. Furthermore, the findings imply that the organizational self-production perspective provides a theoretical foundation for workplace re-engineering.