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Exploring the epistemological origins of Shewhart’s and Deming’s theory of quality:: Influences from C.I. Lewis’ conceptualistic pragmatism.
Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences.
Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences.
2009 (English)In: International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, ISSN 1756-669X, E-ISSN 1756-6703, Vol. 1, no 2, p. 160-171Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the epistemological origin of Shewhart's and Deming's ideas in their development of a theory of quality.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach takes the form of a literature review.

Findings

Walter. A. Shewhart's and W. Edwards Deming's ideas concerning a theory of quality originated not solely from insights about variation within statistics but also from the field of philosophy, particularly epistemology. Shewhart and Deming, both seen as quality pioneers, were strongly influenced by the conceptualistic pragmatist Clarence Irving Lewis and his theory of knowledge. This is, and has often been, a neglected connection; however, in today's competitive business environment knowledge and competence have become crucial success factors. Thus, the epistemology‐related origin of their theory of quality has become increasingly interesting and important to explore. First, a summary version of Clarence Irving Lewis' theory of knowledge will be presented here as expressed in his work Mind and the World Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge (1929). Second, examples of some important connections between Lewis, and chosen parts of Shewhart's and Deming's theory of quality will be given, for example the plan‐do‐study‐act cycle, operational definitions and profound knowledge. It will also be indicated how the social element in knowledge is emphasised in the works of Lewis, Deming, and Shewhart.

Originality/value

By exploring the epistemological background of Deming's and Shewhart's ideas of a theory of quality, it might be able to better comprehend the profound ideas they left behind and improve the understanding and use of their theory of quality today.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences , 2009. Vol. 1, no 2, p. 160-171
Keywords [en]
Quality concepts, Pragmatism, Knowledge processes, Epistemology, Management gurus, Business history
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-28522DOI: 10.1108/17566690910971436OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-28522DiVA, id: diva2:1694120
Available from: 2022-09-08 Created: 2022-09-08 Last updated: 2022-09-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. 'Getting' it Together In Joint Directed Action
Open this publication in new window or tab >>'Getting' it Together In Joint Directed Action
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is focused upon investigating how come activities in organizations are sometimes not aligned with an objective at hand, be it a project goal, safety, quality or other. When something goes wrong, where are the answers to be found? In the pursuit to examine these questions further, the aim of the thesis has been to investigate meaning making in action as this can increase an understanding of how actors may continuously align their actions, collective and/or individual, with a common goal – this process here being called Joint Directed Action (JDA). Studying the relational aspects in the two-way process of meaning making and action is claimed to be a neglected area in the research of how actors make sense of their realities. As such much could be gained in terms of understanding how actions unfold by focusing upon these issues.This thesis illustrates how meaning and action constitute a two-way process unfolding in a continuous interpretational-relational process that needs to be given attention in the pursuit of JDA. By being aware of how meaning and action are intertwined, actors can naturally become attentive to contextual cues and how management ‘systems’, such as Quality Assurance Systems, in their enactment become co-authors shaping the organizational landscape. These are important issues in the pursuit of JDA.This thesis provides a method for facilitating meaning making in organizations. Knowledge Overlapping Seminars (KOS) — a conversational tool based upon facilitated reflection and dialogue — is presented as a means to increased awareness of different interpretations of e.g., a project goal due to local realities and identities within an organization. KOS is a method with the aim of increasing efficiency and reliability in organizations by e.g. delimiting misunderstandings and bridging knowledge gaps between local identities. In this thesis KOS has been applied and evaluated in a Six Sigma project.Based upon findings from the studies it is clear that actors, in the pursuit of JDA, are aided by being aware of how they ‘see things’ differently due to local interpretations. It is further argued that actors can pursue JDA by being able to ‘relate’ to one another. The ‘relating to one another’ is based upon an awareness of how the organisational landscape is continuously shaped and re-shaped due to the reflexive relationships among meaning making, identity creation, emotional activities and action within the flow of conversational activity. And so it is contested here that in the co-authoring of relational landscapes characterized by an interrelating which is heedful, attentive and conscientious actors can ‘‘Get’ it Together’ in the continuous pursuit of Joint Directed Action.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chalmers University, 2009
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola ; Ny serie: 3201
Keywords
emotion, interpretational-relational, language / discourse, Joint Directed Action, meaning making / sensemaking, quality sciences, relational landscape identity, action
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-28525 (URN)9789173853408 (ISBN)
Opponent
Available from: 2022-09-08 Created: 2022-09-08 Last updated: 2022-09-08Bibliographically approved

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