Quality management in university libraries in Vietnam: a framework for development and implementation

2017-02-28T04:43:39Z (GMT) by Ninh, Thi Kim Thoa
Engaging in quality management (QM) is considered one of the approaches for an organisation to change towards improvement, particularly for managing organisational performance and meeting expectations of customers. In Vietnam, with quality reform in higher education, the pressures for improving the quality of teaching, learning and research have resulted in the need to improve academic infrastructure, including university libraries. Change for development in Vietnamese organisations, including university libraries, is slow due to traditional rigid management cultures (Welch, 2010) and lack of requisite resources. The recent official deployment of quality assurance and accreditation in Vietnamese higher education requires critical changes in university libraries to improve the quality of services. The mixed methods approach of this thesis explores QM content in relation to its processes of development and implementation at Vietnamese university libraries. The results are interpreted through using QM theory, strategic change theory, a resource-based view, resource dependence theory, institutional theory and consideration of cultural perspectives. The study first surveyed 93 Vietnamese university libraries, focusing on manager perceptions of QM. The findings show that, while the managers perceived QM as of critical importance, the QM practices at their libraries were at an average level only. The findings indicate that library resources, an application of quality standards, and experience of library managers were important influences, for enabling or impeding QM implementation. The findings of subsequent semi-structured interviews with selected managers and employees of seven university libraries confirm the survey results and add insights into how QM principles were adopted, and how quality standards from the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) and ISO 9001 were followed (or deficient) at the libraries. Interview outcomes supplied in-depth and multiple understandings of social, political and economic influences, information about organisational culture, and human resource characteristics, all of which affected library QM implementation. A framework for QM development and implementation in Vietnamese university libraries is presented, based on the literature review and the findings from the data collection and analysis. The framework proposes that Vietnamese university libraries should design QM programs with priorities given to QM principles, practices and tools, for different stages of the QM process. They need to be based on the understanding of the library cultures and human resource characteristics, and hoped-for collaboration between universities, government and the wider educational environment. The study validates the approach in the QM literature to the extent that implementation of QM in specific organisations is found to be context-dependent. In this study, the term ‘internal context’ is used to cover employee demographics, manager demographics, skills and leadership styles, the physical and financial resources of libraries, and organisational culture. The ‘external context’ is taken as coercive forces for quality imposed by the state and educational institutions, their policies of incentives, and potential resources and subsidies. The findings help Vietnamese university libraries and their managers to understand relevant QM concepts, the challenges around implementing QM programs, and to acquire appropriate methods to strengthen organisational capabilities and to seek resources in the external environment. The study is beneficial for decision-makers in universities and government ministries in advocating appropriate political and economic support for greater library development.