Quality Management In Academic Library And Information Services Education Essay

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This is a critical review of Virendra Mistry's (2000) PhD thesis Motivation and Quality Management in Academic Library and Information Services, Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield. The main reason behind choosing this thesis is the relationship between it and my own research subject, total quality management in academic libraries in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the previous studies that have been produced about this subject are a shared interest. It is also useful to examine someone's research discussing the same research interests using a different methodological approach. Mistry was using grounded theory approach in his study, while my proposed study will use mixed method research, especially sequential explanatory strategy.

Clarity of focus and context.

This thesis is an attempt to investigate the relationship between quality management systems (QMS) and motivation in academic libraries in the higher education system in the UK. He defined "academic library" explicitly and provided his rationale to conduct this research clearly. He believed that there are no systematic and controlled studies of the quality process in the academic libraries, and hoped his research will fill this gap. In addition, QMS received highly emotive by some information professionals. He chose five academic libraries with a QMS environment and four non-QMS libraries in the UK. The rationale for involving these different libraries was to identify the differences in motivation between these different environments. The researcher defined and explained the terms discussed in his thesis such as, QMS and motivation based on his experience. The researcher claimed that the QMS is not a popular concept in LIS sector in the UK universities as, for example, their American counterparts. This is considered as the main reason behind choosing this small number of academic libraries.

The major contribution of this thesis is providing insights inon the relationship between QMS and motivation in the chosen academic libraries. The title of this thesis is expressed clearly and covers the main topics discussed. Mistry has written a well-structured and thoughtful thesis that enhances our understanding of the relationship between QMS and motivation in the academic LIS in the UK. By using a grounded theory approach, Mistry adds a good contribution to the knowledge of quality issues in the Britain's academic LIS. The study uses Grounded theory (GT), which is not a common approach in studying quality issues or other issues in LIS (Powell, 1999). He discussed the ground theory approach in a separate section.

The structure of this research is specified correctly and clearly. This thesis is organized on a thematic basis. It has 12 chapters discussing each component in the topic clearly and in a sufficient way. Each chapter has a main idea to discuss with the obtained results from the sample, with a conclusion to summarize the main findings and themes raised during data collecting and analysing processes. In the introductory chapter, the researcher discusses and provides a clear background about the QMS concept in general and in LIS in particular. In addition, he provides a wide understanding of motivation issues that are related to QMS. Mistry clearly defines the research objective based on the previous studies. Mistry mentioned several times that the thesis is organized on a thematic basis. The findings are analysed against the body of the theoretical and empirical literature on QMS and motivation. These chapters cover: general introduction, terms and context of the study, research methodology, the meaning of quality management, participation and involvement, communication, roles and responsibilities, training and development, feedback and appraisal, autonomy, pay and rewards, and conclusion and postscript. At the end of each chapter, Mistry tried to transfer the reader's attention from chapter to chapter by linking these two chapters. In other words, he tried to prepare the reader to be ready for the following chapter by showing how the principles discussed in the previous chapter are related to the next one.

The key aim of this research is clearly expressed, when Mistry states, 'this study will aim to identify and assess the relationship between QMS and motivation. This is the focal point of this investigation." (p.32). it also aims to identify the effects of QMS intervention, and to discuss how the employees have been motivated to follow QMS. He provided addition to the literature by using an approach less used and discussed important issues like QMS and motivation. He provided an exhaustive literature review about QMS and motivation in LIS sector. He argued that the LIS literature in the quality was prevalent, while the literature on QMS was relatively non-existent. LIS were interested in quality management processes like customer care more than the quality assurance and quality improvement.

Engagement with the literature

In the Grounded theory research, the literature review is usually delayed until the theory begins to emerge. The first step in this research is collecting data, rather than developing a hypothesis, which is a characteristic of GT (Daengbuppha, Hemmington, & Wilkes, 2006). Its strength is in its ability to provide a theory of how the action and meaning can be explained (Charmaz, 2006). The author believes that understanding the social phenomenon is more important than reviewing the literature. He states:

"The thesis is, therefore, organised on a thematic basis, and the investigation's findings are analysed and illuminated against the prescriptive, theoretical and empirical literature on QMS and motivation. It is the intention of the investigator to generate explanatory theory, by highlighting any gaps, should they prove to exist, so that, in accordance with the investigation's aims and objectives, our understanding of QMS as a social phenomenon is advanced" (p. 101).

However, the researcher reviews the literature through discussing the obtained results from the interviews. He compared the previous studies findings with his own findings. He showed a high ability to convey the main concepts. He uses a wide range of materials and resources to support his ideas and arguments. It covered the relevant literature of just in time about QMS and motivation. Mistry provided a balanced and critical literature review that supports and that differs from his position. The findings of this research are analysed against the literature on QMS and motivation. Mistry covered a variety of academic and non-academic resources, such as professional works. He was limited to the English sources that published in English-speaking countries only, such as UK, US, Australia, and Canada. Besides, several publications translated from Japanese to English were covered, because the quality concept has appeared first in the USA and Japan.

Methodology and implementation:

This is an interpretive research, where the qualitative approach (grounded theory) was implemented as the main research methodology. This is the appropriate methodology to study the "effect of individuals and larger social processes" (Charmaz, 1995: 28-29). Mistry discussed different approaches to GT and clearly justified his choice. Using grounded theory can be a salutary and edifying exercise, for it stimulates the researcher's excitement about the conduct of research. In addition, questionnaires or "ground clearing exercise" used to identify LIS adopting QMS or pursuing TQM and to establish contacts with library administrators and the research sample members. His choice was successful, especially when considering the nature of QMS itself. Systems like TQM represent new meanings and ways of understanding the employee opinions. He wanted to know why these people act as they do, and why they make particular decisions.

According to Mistry, the rationale for implementing GT in his research is the nature of QMS itself. Several resources provide comments on systems like TQM, which provides new meanings and ways to understand employee behaviours. In addition, he states:

"The QMS literature has assumed, given the seductive nature of quality that employees will be submissive and obedient to the cause and that employees will "unproblematically respond to [QMS's] demands" (p. 105).

Mistry quotes other researchers' contexts for using GT in QMS and motivation to support his choice, such as Kerfoot &Knights (1995), Wilkinson (1994) and Sitkin et al (1994). In addition, Charmaz (2006) believes it has several advantages that make it a useful research method for collecting and analysing data, such as having strategies to guide the researcher systematically through the analysis process. Besides, it enables the researcher to understand the processes and identify the connection between different events.

The researcher chooses the research sample from the results of the ground clearing exercise. The aim of this stage is to identify LIS, which had adopted QMS and, to establish contacts with chief librarians of these institutions. However, the researcher provides little information about the libraries involved in this research. He provides just a biographical profile of the participants. One of the chosen libraries was a medical library located in teaching hospitals. It was involved in this research because it had a difficult implementation of quality principles. The researcher wanted to gain different opinions and ideas from the libraries that implemented the quality principles. The participants were chosen carefully, based on their roles in the libraries, which are managers, professional, and paraprofessionals. Besides, Mistry believed that this purposive sampling was derived from the supposition that quality could be viewed as an alienating entity in some academic libraries, especially in those located in the teaching hospitals as stated above. Mistry justified his choice. In the grounded theory research, the emphasis is on theoretical sampling rather than on the representativeness of the population. This involves the selection of new cases to study for expanding the understanding the phenomenon.

The researcher provides a brief summary about the instruments available to measure motivation, from sociological perspectives. These instruments could have been used in his study, but he preferred to develop his own instrument. Mistry believes that using one of these instruments may have led to a focus on motivation rather than the relationship between QMS and motivation, which is the main objective of this research. This instrument is described sufficiently and considered as an advantage of this research, because it provides and establishes a new instrument that can be used in other studies in LIS or other subjects. He states, "The research instrument attempted to distinguish between the levels of attitudes, knowledge and experiences towards these initiatives" (p. 115). The research instrument was tested in the pilot study, and he received comments and suggestions from the participants about this instrument and the questions during the interviews in one QMS LIS and two non-QMS LIS. It is this necessary in GT to conduct a pilot study for several reasons. It aims to test the intelligibility of the interview schedule, to test the suitability of the interview schedule in the main study, and to resolve any ambiguity and bias emanating from questions (Maxwell, 2005).

The semi-structured interview is the main instrument used to collect data. The researcher conducted interviews with sample members and managed the time effectively. This research ethically guided by The Department of Information Studies' ethics. The interviewees all received all documents explaining the nature of the study and their rights during the pilot and main study. The researcher's rationale for using the semi-structured interview approach is its ability to provide rich data about the research topic from the individual's experiences, views, attitudes, and beliefs. It also gives the investigator the freedom to formulate questions, as the research requires (Gubrium & Holstein, 2002), (Walsh, 2001). This is a successful choice by the researcher, because there are few published papers discuss QMS and motivation in LIS. The sample size is adequate. Onwuegbuzie (2004) believes that the interview with a large number of people is important in grounded theory research to elicit major, repetitive themes of the topic under study. Misty (2000) achieves this target, when he interviewed 50 participants in the QMS environment and 41 in the non-QMS environment.

In the appendices, Mistry provided copies of the research instrument, ground clearing exercise, interview schedule, profile of participants and communications with participants.

Data analysis:

This research is guided by grounded theory research methodology. The researcher divides the data analysis process in two phases. The first one is the preliminary phase, during or after the actual interview, when the researcher asked the interviewees to explain some ideas during the interview. This process is effective, because it allows the researcher to clarify some unclear issues, while the data was still fresh in his mind. Mistry started to analyse the data while conducting the interviews, because data collection and analysis processes occur concurrently in the grounded theory research (Chrmaz, 2006). In the second phase, called (formal), he codes the important data that are related to his research topic. The axial coding was applied in this study. The method of handling and analysing data developed based on the major issues and theme. This process is typical in analysing grounded theory research.

The writing up process was delayed for a year, because the researcher was working on another funded project about the quality of libraries. He stays away from the research for a year, that may make him lose his way in analysing the data, and what the main themes are that have been addressed. On the other hand, he believes that it helped him to gain more valuable insights and further ideas, which may have been a benefit to the research.

The results are presented effectively. He provides a detailed information and discussion about each issue involved in this research. The researcher quotes from the interview's speech to support the identified results, which is considered as a good connection between the data collected and the research findings.

Mistry presents his research in a thematic basis. In addition, the research findings are analysed against theoretical and empirical literature on QMS and motivation. These data are presented in different chapters, which have detailed discussions about the findings and the QMS and motivation theoretical framework. Mistry thinks that the aim of the pilot study for his research is to avoid bias in questions and data analysis. However, he did not describe the processes used to avoid bias in the data obtained and the analysis procedures, such as peer review.

Relating research to objectives:

This research aims to consider the relationship between QMS and motivation. The researcher tries in this thesis to develop and implement a research instrument, which examined the relationship between QMS and motivation.

Mistry finds that there is a relationship between QMS and motivation. He finds that the most successful academic libraries are those that motivate their front line staff. However, the less successful academic libraries are those that ignore staff needs. These findings show that there is a good relationship between QMS and motivation, which is expressed and explained clearly. Implementing quality management principles will lead the academic libraries under study to achieve their targets. These principles were discussed in detail, such as senior management commitment, motivation, communication, teamwork. Each one of these principles was discussed and connected to the research findings in a separate chapter. At the end of each chapter, Mistry provides the investigation findings and discusses them with the data gathered from the research sample. The overall results were connected clearly and directly to the research objective. There was a comparison between QMS and non-QMS academic libraries in the QMS principles, such as participations, communications, training...etc.

As this research is guided by the grounded theory approach, Mistry discusses the findings concerning previous research to find the relationships between his findings and findings from other research studies to fill the gaps in the literature. The researcher also has outlined the limitations of his research clearly, such as limitations in sampling, data collection and analysis, and the literature discussed in QMS and motivation.

Mistry used different type of references listed at the end of the thesis. These references are up-to date materials, which are reflected in the currency of the information. He uses Harvard referencing system in citing his references, as the Department of Information Studies requires. A few of errors in citing book sections were found. There are two references cited widely in the text, but they are missing at the bibliography. Mistry used good academic grammar with a few spelling errors. Quotes and footnotes used are correct and relevant.

The thesis covers 412 pages divided into 12 sections. These sections are different in size and shape. The first three chapters are longer than the rest of the chapters. Chapters 4-11 are in the same structure discussing different issues in quality systems. The last chapter discussed the overall conclusion and postscript. In the preliminary pages, Mistry lists the terms and context used in the thesis in the second chapter, such as quality revolution, TQM, ISO 9000, and quality control. He placed the glossary about QMS terms and organizations at the end of the thesis. In addition, six appendices contain supplementary material are listed at the final section of this thesis, such as outline of the study, e-mails sent to the participants, and the interview schedule.

In conclusion, Mistry provided a well-designed thesis that covers all the aspects of QMS and motivation. He has furthered our knowledge of the relationship between QMS and motivation in the population under study. Its strength appears in using grounded theory approach to find the relationship between QMS and motivation, which is less used in LIS literature. In addition, this thesis was needed when the researcher conducted his research, because the literature in the QMS and motivation was limited, and this gap is partly filled. The researcher provided a new instrument, when he developed the instrument used. Mistry did not describe the processes used to avoid bias in the data obtained and the analysis procedure, which is considered as weakness of this thesis.