Date of Award

Summer 1997

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Widera, G. E. O.

Second Advisor

Guastello, Stephen J.

Third Advisor

Cotton, John L.


Manufacturing organizations are changing. The market place is very dynamic. The decision-making process still contains a core element: to establish priorities. The problem is how to identify the priorities that lead management to make effective decisions about its operations. Many factors could affect, or be generated by the competition, such as new products, new processes, and workers' relationships in their jobs. Companies need to hedge against changes in competition which could lead to a market share loss. Total Quality Management is one decision-making process that companies have used widely in the last decade. While TQM applications produced some good results, there were also many failures. Many of the techniques employed are simple; others are not. The difficult ones demand complex approaches in order to deal with them. The use of nonlinear dynamical systems presents new methodologies to investigate problems in different disciplines apart from mathematics, physics, and engineering where it originated, such as psychology, biochemistry, genetics, and organizational behavior. Nonlinear dynamical systems are also known as chaos, or complexity theories. This thesis presents an application of nonlinear dynamics to total quality management, particularly regarding the prioritizing aspect of the decision-making process. It includes a survey of American manufacturing companies, so as to be able to investigate policy shifts involving three-way trade-offs among product, process, and human resources. The comparison between priorities the companies set five years ago and current priorities could possibly be chaotic. In that case, organizations have an opportunity either: (a) to control chaos, or (b) to promote self-organization. The present work also includes a magnet simulation, which indicates that under some conditions, the aforementioned three factors produced chaotic configurations...



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