Present-day customers are very conscious of the quality of products and services. They are ready to pay a higher price for a quality product or service. A company that meets such demands gains a competitive advantage in the market over its competitors. One of the best approaches to address this challenge is the implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM, a systematic management approach and a journey to meet competitive and technological challenges, has been accepted by both service and manufacturing organizations globally. It is commonly agreed that by adopting TQM, the overall effectiveness and performance of organizations can be improved. Despite TQM offers numerous benefits, it is not an easy task to implement it. It is generally experienced that implementation of TQM is hard and painful due to certain barriers that inhibit the successful implementation of TQM. Understanding the factors that are likely to obstruct TQM implementation enables managers to develop more effective strategies for achieving business excellence. Therefore, the purpose of this literature-based paper is to identify the barriers in implementing TQM in business organizations. An extensive literature review was carried out to achieve this objective. The barriers in implementing TQM were identified under three main thematic areas namely: managerial issues, people-oriented issues and organizational issues. Under managerial issues, there are five barriers which hinder the successful implementation of TQM; lack of communication, lack of top-management commitment, lack of coordination between departments, no benchmarking and poor planning. There are four barriers under the category of the people-oriented issue namely, employee resistance to change, lack of proper training and education, inadequate use of empowerment and teamwork, and human resource barrier. Moreover, three barriers were identified under organizational issues, i.e. lack of continuous improvement culture, the attitude of employees towards quality, and high turnover at management level. Among these three categories, managerial issues were the most vital category followed by people-oriented issues and organizational issues. However, an in-depth empirical investigation is needed to explore the barriers in implementing TQM in the context of Sri Lankan organizations.
Keywords: Total Quality Management, Barriers, Implementation