Quality in industry and education: finding common ground

Publication Date01 December 1996
Date01 December 1996
AuthorDesmond Hickie,Martin Sawkins
This paper explores a range of the education-
al, managerial and quality issues associated
with the running of in-company, postgradu-
ate, management courses. It is based on the
authors’ experience of working together to
manage a postgraduate programme in total
quality leadership (TQL) at Rover Body and
Pressings (RBP), Swindon (a division of the
Rover Group). The programme has three
stages, proceeding from Certificate, to Diplo-
ma, and finally to Master of Arts (MA in
TQL). The three awards have each been
accredited by Liverpool John Moores Univer-
sity (LJMU). This paper focuses, in particu-
lar, on the conditions necessary for the part-
ners’ coming together successfully to develop
the programme.
Rover Group, strategy and management
Rover Group produces about 500,000 cars
per annum. The company has annual sales of
£4.3 billion and employs 33,000 people. It
was privatized in 1988, being sold to British
Aerospace and was sold once more, to the
German motor manufacturer, BMW, in 1994.
As British Leyland in the 1970s, the com-
pany went through a very difficult period. A
truly radical transformation of the company’s
fortunes came about from 1986 onwards,
when the board took two key strategic steps to
improve its fortunes. First, it decided that the
company should reposition itself in the mar-
ketplace, as a specialist manufacturer of high
quality saloon cars and off-road vehicles.
Second, to achieve this repositioning, the
company underwent an internal transforma-
tion. In 1987 a total quality programme was
introduced to raise customer satisfaction,
improve the quality of Rover products, and to
cut the company’s cost base.
During the past ten years the company has
achieved a great deal. In 1994 it was one of
the two winners of the first UK Quality Award
of the British Quality Foundation. As Sir John
Harvey-Jones has commented:
If there was an award for the most changed
company, I would give it to Rover (quoted in
Mayo and Lank, 1996, p.16).
At the very heart of the total quality improve-
ment (TQI) process lay a profound change in
Rover’s culture and its treatment of its
employees. Before 1986 the culture had been
Quality Assurance in Education
Volume 4 · Number 4 · 1996 · pp. 4–8
© MCB University Press · ISSN 0968-4883
Quality in industry and
education: finding
common ground
Desmond Hickie and
Martin Sawkins
The authors
Desmond Hickie is Principal Lecturer at Liverpool John
Moores University, Liverpool, UK.
Martin Sawkins was formerly at Rover Body and Press-
ings Division of Rover Group plc, Swindon, UK.
Explores a range of educational, managerial and quality
issues associated with the running of in-company, post-
graduate management courses. Describes a postgraduate
programme in total quality leadership developed for a
major motor manufacturer and leading to awards accredit-
ed by a university. Focuses particularly on the conditions
necessary for the educational and industrial partners to
come together successfully to develop such a joint pro-

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