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Journal cover: Journal of Management History

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Online from: 2006

Subject Area: Management Science/Management Studies

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Florence Nightingale: nineteenth century apostle of quality

Document Information:
Title:Florence Nightingale: nineteenth century apostle of quality
Author(s):Brad C. Meyer, (College of Business and Public Administration, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, USA), Debra S. Bishop, (College of Business and Public Administration, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
Citation:Brad C. Meyer, Debra S. Bishop, (2007) "Florence Nightingale: nineteenth century apostle of quality", Journal of Management History, Vol. 13 Iss: 3, pp.240 - 254
Keywords:Health services, Historical research, Quality management, Statistics
Article type:General review
DOI:10.1108/17511340710754699 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – Florence Nightingale has long been known for her contributions to the nursing field, but her pioneering work in quality management has gone virtually undiscussed. This paper addresses the significant contributions of Nightingale to the field of quality management.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper begins with a brief biographical background and then discusses her work during the Crimean War. Florence's approach to addressing service quality issues and her use of statistical methods are detailed. The paper then extends to her work following the Crimean War and concludes with an interesting comparative commentary relating Florence Nightingale to Dr W. Edwards Deming. Quotes from Florence's writings are interjected liberally throughout.

Findings – This paper brings a new historical perspective to the field of quality management and reveals a nineteenth century apostle of quality. The current alarm regarding quality in health care practice bears more than a fleeting resemblance to Florence Nightingale's world, 150 years ago.

Practical implications – While many hospitals have already experimented with some kind of quality program based on Deming's ideas, the call is out afresh to analyze processes and eliminate mistakes and other quality problems.

Originality/value – This historical paper provides the reader with a unique perspective on Florence Nightingale's well deserved place in quality history and the relevance of her philosophies for today.

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