Date of Conferral







Walter R. McCollum


Businesses with failed quality initiatives lose revenue, experience high expenses, and have fewer market opportunities. Researchers attribute failed quality initiatives to human and social factors. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of employees in companies that received an Arkansas Governor's Quality Award between 2010 and 2015. No one knows how employees' experiences contribute to successful quality initiatives, or how their stories about their experiences influence quality management and continuous improvement. The conceptual framework consisted of Weick's theory of sense-making and Deming's system of profound knowledge. Data were collected via semistructured interviews with 11 participants across 8 organizations. Participants checked the member experience summary created from verbatim interview transcriptions analyzed per van Manen's whole-part-whole model. The analysis of the transcripts showed that participants' most meaningful experiences were those with people, followed by materials, feelings, time, and space. The study findings also showed that people transferred proven problem-solving methods from the workplace to their home and out into the community. The results of this study could contribute to positive social change by helping managers increase the potential for a successful quality initiative when they consider people's needs and contributions before adopting a set of quality management tools and practices.