Learning from Armand V. Feigenbaum


Armand V. Feigenbaum was American national born in 1922 in the New York City (Zairi 652). His legacy still lives, even after his death in 2014, because of his invention and contribution to the subject of Total Quality Management. After his studies, he secured a job as a manufacturing operations manager in the General Electric Company. During his tenure as the manager, Feigenbaum developed and wrote about the concept of Total Quality Control. In his writing, he noted that none of the departments in an organization was plainly charged with the responsibility of quality (Sallis 56). Nevertheless, he confirmed that just as quality would be expected from the production department, so was the responsibility of all other departments in the organization. According to him, the quality did not imply the ” better ” aspect alone, but comprised of the other elements of improved pricing and better customer services (Zairi 652). Further, he wrote about the costs implied in the total quality management concept. These costs would include prevention costs, re-evaluation costs, internal failure costs, and external failure costs. Moreover, Feigenbaum highlighted the fundamental steps to realizing quality: quality leadership, quality management technology, and the organizational commitment to excellence.

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Feigenbaum would be remembered for advancing various principles, which are considered basics to total quality management. These principles include the understanding that quality is a process affecting the entire company. Secondly, quality can be defined as what customers say and that the costs incurred are an addition and not a difference (Mandru et al. 121). Thirdly, quality should be perceived as a way of management in an organization. Furthermore, quality would be better interpreted as a codependent factor for innovation. In addition, quality is an ethic which should improve gradually. Finally, his writings would confirm that the implementation of quality requires the interconnectedness of the entire internal system, clients, and suppliers. Therefore, his career life would be defined by his great contribution to the development of the concept of total quality control, which was later advanced into total quality management and his involvement in investment. He would later rise to become the president and CEO of the general systems company in the year 1969 (Madu 21).

Education Background

Feigenbaum studied and graduated with BA at the Union College in New York. He would later enroll and pursue a master’s and Ph.D. programs in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Besides, he received an honorary doctor of science degree from Union College (Mandru et al. 121). The University of Massachusetts later awarded him the honorarium of doctor of humane letters degree. Finally, he received the doctor of science, an honorary degree from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He was also greatly recognized in academic fields and the United States Army. He has also been widely celebrated for his philanthropy together with his brother (Mandru et al. 121).

Honor and Awards

His development and implementation of modern total control systems led him to become the first ASQ’s Lancaster Award recipient in 1965 (Madu 21). Secondly, he was awarded the merit award by the National Security Industrial Association and became a member of the advisory group in the United States Army. In fact, he became the chairperson of a system-wide evaluation of the quality assurance activities of the US Army. He was also honored and appointment to become the material command consulting officer with the armed forces industrial college (Madu 21). He lived as a life member of the institute of electrical and electronic engineers and the American society of mechanical engineers.

Before his death in 2014, Feigenbaum spent much of his life in traveling to international destinations in his engineering career (Zairi 652). His awards and honorary achievements would indicate his outstanding performance in the discipline of engineering and the total quality management.

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Contribution to the Theory of Management

Many scholars perceive the name Feigenbaum as synonymous with the Total Quality Management concept because of his commendable role in shaping the development of the concept of Total Quality Control into the TQM as is known in the modern times. In his book, he explains the need to advance from the concept and methods of quality control to quality control as a tool or a business method (Sallis 63). Therefore, according to him, the human relations and administrative viewpoints would be considered basic issues to quality control activities. Therefore, he advocated for the quality improvement efforts in the various groups of individuals and departments in an organization for improved efficiency and effectiveness in production. Besides, he would emphasize on the essence of ensuring customer satisfaction through deliberate efforts. Therefore, according to Feigenbaum, control encompasses four steps in management, including setting quality standards, appraising the performance, acting when the standards are exceeded, and planning for improvements (Mandru et al. 121). Thus, Feigenbaum was seen to have involved all the departments and phases of the industrial production process. In the modern times, Total quality management concepts have been studied considerably, with the contribution of Feigenbaum remaining of paramount significance. He became the first person to define the systems engineering approach to the concept of quality.

His great achievements were associated with academic excellence and the professionalism depicted in his career. The history of the 20th century in industrial development and advancement of the production technology regarded the work of Feigenbaum (Sallis 55). Therefore, by blending the perspectives of pragmatic with the academic, philosophical and practical, the statistical and humanistic and then the managerial and operational, Feigenbaum would be accorded a unique regard in the history of engineering, especially for the contributions in defining Total Quality Management.


The Biography of Feigenbaum indicates the 20th century realized one of the greatest minds in the history of engineering and the discipline of management. Through his education and career, Feigenbaum contributed greatly to the concept of Total Quality Control, as was emphasized before he brought in the concept of TQM. He wrote various books emphasizing the need to incorporate all departments and production systems in ensuring quality in performance were realized. Accordingly, he argued that the quality was not the prerogative of a single department but the collaborated efforts of all departments. He would then rise to become a president of an engineering firm. He received numerous careers, education and honorary awards due to his exceptional performance and contribution to the management systems. He was also a renowned investor who valued giving back to the society. They would set up philanthropic organizations with his brother in honor of their deceased parents. An evaluation of Feigenbaum’s life is an inspiration and a celebration of great contributions to the systems and management theory in the 20th century.


Works Cited

Madu, Christian, ed. Handbook of total quality management. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.

Mandru, L. I. D. I. A., et al. “Paradigms of total quality management.” Recent researched in manufacturing engineering (2011): 121-126.

Sallis, Edward. Total quality management in education. Routledge, 2014.

Zairi, Mohamed. “The TQM legacy–Gurus’ contributions and theoretical impact.” The TQM Journal 25.6 (2013): 659-676.

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