The strategic "pull" and operational "push" of total quality management in UK regional electricity service companies

Rodney McAdam, John McLean, Joan Henderson

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The aim of this paper is to evaluate whether the UK regional electricity companies (RECs) has used total quality management (TQM) as a "push" or as a "pull" change methodology. "Push" is the operational improvement role of TQM; "pull" is the strategic or direction giving, improvement role of TQM. Following the onset of privatisation in 1990 there has been evidence of the RECs adopting TQM in both "push" and "pull" methodologies with varying degrees of success. An evaluation of the change processes involved will enable improved change models to be developed leading to increased business effectiveness in this £30 billion industry. Other possible benefits include the possible generalisations to other utilities such as water, roads, gas and telecoms. The research methodology includes a comparative case study analysis of five RECs, which have used TQM as their overarching approach to change. One of the cases is analysed to a more in-depth level based on the multiple case findings. The findings indicate that the "push-pull" analysis enables the full range of TQM activities to be evaluated in the RECs studied. Overall, there is a need to have a balanced portfolio of operational or "push"-based TQM activity that is driven by strategic or "pull"-based TQM planning and activity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)436-457
    Number of pages22
    JournalInternational Journal of Quality and Reliability Management
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2003

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Electricity industry
    • Total quality management
    • United Kingdom
    • Utilities


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