آیا گواهینامه ISO 9000 بر ابعاد کیفیت برای مزیت رقابتی استفاده می شود؟
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 18, Issue 4, August 2000, Pages 431–443
Garvin's [Garvin, D.A. (1987) Competing on the eight dimensions of quality. Harvard Business Review 65(6), 101–109] eight dimensions of quality have become a widely accepted taxonomy for discussions of product quality. These dimensions were used as the basis for evaluating the impacts of ISO 9000 certification on companies' product quality. Eleven ISO 9000 certified companies in Europe were studied to determine if and how ISO 9000 certification impacted the dimensions of quality relevant to their success. Results indicated that, for the companies studied, quality does improve as a result of ISO 9000 certification. Furthermore, results suggested that the reasons for seeking certification can influence the degree to which quality is improved.
The signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 catapulted the ISO 9000 quality standards into the global arena. The standards, introduced in 1987 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), had been developed to facilitate global trade by harmonizing quality terms, systems, and standards. But the incorporation of these standards into the European Community's 1989 global assessment procedures was the impetus for the broad acceptance of the standards by companies worldwide. The contribution the standards have made to global quality system conformity is evidenced by the number of firms worldwide that have achieved certification: from fewer than 30 000 at the end of 1992 to over a million as of the end of 1998 (International Organization for Standardization, 1999). The ISO 9000 series provides the basis for demonstrating a company's compliance to a quality system by establishing the documentation and procedural standards that must be met (Anderson et al., 1999). Under these standards, controls must be established for every aspect of the production process and all operational procedures and managerial actions must be documented (Zhu and Scheuermann, 1999). Additionally, `These standards are …designed to demonstrate to customers that the supplying organization has achieved a basic level of quality assurance by the formalization and documentation of its quality management system' (Beattie and Sohal, 1999). The ISO 9000 standards do not require third party assessment and periodic audit of the quality system, however, achieving certification is based on both third party assessment and periodic audit to confirm that the system meets and adheres to the ISO 9000 standard (Anderson et al., 1999). While ISO 9000 certification does not regulate or control product quality, per se, the high documentation requirements may serve to identify deficiencies in processes or quality controls leading to the implementation of improvements ( Anderson et al., 1999, Beattie and Sohal, 1999 and Docking and Dowen, 1999). Perceptions of quality and its role in firms' competitiveness have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Consumerism, the global marketplace, and e-commerce have been key factors in these shifts. Consumers and businesses demand high quality products, and now, with the popularity and availability of doing business on the internet, they can `shop the world' to find them. The global supply chain has become a reality. Thus the role of quality in a firm's competitiveness has evolved into a strategic one (Ismail and Hashmi, 1999) and, as a result, quality is an imperative that no firm can ignore. According to Garvin (1987), effectively competing on the basis of quality requires the identification and enhancement of those dimensions from which the firm can gain a strategic competitive advantage. To facilitate the incorporation of quality into firms' strategic planning, Garvin (1987)proposed eight dimensions of quality to serve as a framework for the discussion and analysis of product quality (see Table 1). Firms must determine the best way to incorporate this imperative into their strategic planning and operations. Many quality philosophies and initiatives have appeared in recent years, and virtually every manufacturing organization has pursued some type of quality system. For a number of years TQM appeared to be the most popular quality strategy (Mann and Kehoe, 1994), however, it is now generally accepted that ISO 9000 has become the most prevalent global quality initiative (Tsiotras and Gotzamani, 1996, Ismail and Hashmi, 1999, Lee and Palmer, 1999 and Zhu and Scheuermann, 1999). According to the literature, pursuit of ISO 9000 certification is primarily motivated by the need for an entré into the global marketplace, competitive pressures, or customer requirements (for examples, see Anderson et al., 1999, Carlsson and Carlsson, 1996, Lee and Palmer, 1999, Rayner and Porter, 1991 and Beattie and Sohal, 1999). These factors, among others, are used to explain the prevalence of ISO 9000 certification among firms in the world today (Tsiotras and Gotzamani, 1996). Thus, achieving ISO 9000 certification contributes to a firm's competitiveness from the perspective of serving as a `license to compete.' An issue that deserves attention is the contribution that ISO 9000 certification makes to competitiveness. Anderson et al. (1999)attempted to address this issue and reported evidence that firms are highly motivated to seek ISO 9000 certification for reasons beyond regulatory or customer requirements. Their analysis revealed that firms seek ISO 9000 certification as `credible public signals of effective quality management practices' (Anderson et al., 1999, p. 40). Others have reported that ISO 9000 certification results in a perception of higher quality (Docking and Dowen, 1999). While these signals may contribute to some public awareness of a firm's efforts regarding quality systems, it is not clear that such awareness actually affects competitiveness. On the other hand, if there is some evidence that ISO 9000 certification has positive impacts on the dimensions of quality from which a firm gains its competitive advantage, then such `public signals' would have more value. Thus, an important question that needs to be answered is whether ISO 9000 certification contributes to a firm's competitiveness by enhancing the dimensions of quality it uses for competitive advantage. This study seeks to answer this question. A plethora of articles about ISO 9000 exists in the literature today. Many articles have appeared in trade magazines and other practitioner-oriented publications. These works are primarily prescriptive or descriptive and relate to such issues as implementation steps, justification for certification, benefits and costs of certification (for examples, see McFayden and Walsh, 1992, Houghton, 1993, Morrow, 1993 and Reddish, 1994). In general, these publications are speculative, impressionistic, anecdotal, and typically based on the experiences of a single company. The literature also abounds with journal articles addressing a variety of issues. Numerous studies have presented evidence that ISO 9000 certification enhances other quality initiatives, particularly TQM (Beattie and Sohal, 1999, Ismail and Hashmi, 1999 and Lee and Palmer, 1999). Empirical studies have addressed issues such as costs and benefits of certification (Atwater and Discenza, 1993 and Rayner and Porter, 1991), motivation for adopting ISO 9000 standards (Anderson et al., 1999 and Beattie and Sohal, 1999), significance of complying with ISO 9000 standards (Beattie and Sohal, 1999 and Anderson et al., 1999), and the effects of registration on business performance and operations (Mann and Kehoe, 1994, Beattie and Sohal, 1999 and Rayner and Porter, 1991). Several comprehensive studies have been conducted on the implications of ISO 9000 registration on sourcing practices (Withers et al., 1995), and on competitiveness (Anderson et al., 1999). There has been little examination of the impact of ISO registration on product quality itself. Rayner and Porter (1991)reported that 75 per cent of the United Kingdom firms in the study `claimed' product quality had improved. Terziovski et al. (1995)found no positive relationship between customer satisfaction and ISO 9000 certification. Several studies indicated that ISO 9000 certification results in the perception of higher quality (Zhu and Scheuermann, 1999 and Sissell, 1996), this outcome would seem to imply only that the certification effort has served as a public signal that quality management is being practiced (Anderson et al., 1999). None of these studies address the fact that quality is no longer defined as achieving a specified level of defects. Instead quality can be defined according to a number of dimensions of importance to the customer (Garvin, 1987). Thus, what has been missing from the literature is an assessment of how ISO 9000 certification has affected the dimensions of quality upon which a firm depends for its competitive advantage. ISO 9000 certification is not a risk-free undertaking. The cost of certification can be very high (ranging from $10 000 to $300 000 per company (Atwater and Discenza, 1993 and Anderson et al., 1999). Additionally, a high first-time failure rate pervades the experiences of US firms (Garver, 1994). These risks of ISO 9000 implementation are drawing increasing attention to the benefits of achieving certification. The higher number of certified firms in Europe than the US (historically three to five times greater) (Anderson et al., 1999) suggests that European firms may have a better handle on the certification process or a better understanding of the impacts of ISO 9000 on company operations and outputs. While ISO 9000 may continue to serve as a market qualifier in some markets (i.e. the European market) (Atwater and Discenza, 1993, Ebrahimpour et al., 1997 and Withers et al., 1997), its value may be judged by many firms on the basis of its contribution to actual product or service quality. The willingness to pursue ISO 9000 registration could depend heavily upon evidence that registration will contribute to improved quality for those factors perceived by the firm as important to competitive success. Case analyses can form the foundation for further, in depth, analyses of these implications. The purpose of this study is to report on the ISO 9000 registration experiences of eleven European firms. Using a case approach, this study compares and contrasts these firms on the following issues: (1) reasons for pursuing registration, (2) obstacles encountered during the registration process, and (3) impacts of ISO 9000 registration on the dimensions of quality used for competitive advantage. The results of the study will provide information about how a firm's competitiveness has been affected by its ISO 9000 certification.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The 11 firms in this study represent a very heterogeneous group, in terms of size, industry, and number of years certified. Firm size, when measured by number of employees, range from very small (27 or 30 employees), through medium (from 100 to 999 employees), to large (3,100 or 16 000 employees). The range is equally broad when viewed by sales (in millions of US dollars). The smallest firm had $2.5 million in sales and the largest firm had $2269 million in sales. The industry representation is also varied, representing chemicals, small tools, electronics, appliances, machinery, and communications. The amount of time the study's firms have been certified ranges from `in process' to 6 years, with the average being 3.9 years. Reasons for Seeking ISO 9000 Certification: In spite of the heterogeneous nature of the firms in the study, quite a few similarities of experiences emerged. With respect to the reasons for seeking ISO 9000 certification, the most frequently cited reason was customer requirements. Eight of the 11 firms identified customer requirements as a reason. Six of these eight rated customer requirements as one of the top three reasons, and all eight rated it in the top four. This strong influence is consistent with results from other studies that found customer demands to be one of the primary reasons that US firms seek ISO 9000 certification ( Atwater and Discenza, 1993, Ebrahimpour et al., 1997, Thayer, 1993, Weston, 1995 and Zhu and Scheuermann, 1999). It was also reported as a motivating factor for Belgium firms (Vloeberghs and Bellens, 1996), Greek firms (Tsiotras and Gotzamani, 1996), New Zealand firms (Lee and Palmer, 1999), Swedish firms (Carlsson and Carlsson, 1996), and Australian firms (Beattie and Sohal, 1999). The next most important reason for pursuing ISO 9000 certification appears to be firms' expectations for process improvements. Six of the 11 firms identified this reason, with four of these six rating it as one of the top two reasons. Creating more efficient processes has been identified in other studies as an important reason for certification ( Ebrahimpour et al., 1997, Weston, 1995, Vloeberghs and Bellens, 1996 and Carlsson and Carlsson, 1996). Competitive pressure is another reason a majority of firms cited for getting ISO 9000 certification. Six of the 11 firms identified competitive pressures, with four of these six rating it as one of the top three reasons. This result supports the findings of other studies which reported market pressures and competition as motivators for certification ( Ebrahimpour et al., 1997, Carlsson and Carlsson, 1996, Beattie and Sohal, 1999 and Lee and Palmer, 1999). A majority of the European firms identified improving employee relations and improving communications as reasons for seeking ISO 9000 certification. Even though these firms rated these reasons lower (except for a single instance, all firms rated these reasons as fourth or fifth in importance), the fact that they appear in the top five reasons is noteworthy. Two observations are important with respect to this occurrence. First, this result is inconsistent with the results of other studies that have not found either of these issues to be important motivators for ISO 9000 certification ( Ebrahimpour et al., 1997, Weston, 1995, Vloeberghs and Bellens, 1996 and Carlsson and Carlsson, 1996). Second, a recent study of ISO 9000-certified firms operating in the US revealed that poor communication was recognized by these firms as a barrier to ISO 9000 implementation and, subsequently, communication was identified as a key beneficiary of the ISO 9000 implementation effort (Ebrahimpour et al., 1997). In contrast, it is interesting that a majority of the European firms in this current study perceived improving communications as a viable motivation for seeking ISO certification. Another interesting observation with respect to reasons for ISO certification relates to the responses by the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation (MCC) firms. Three out of the four MCC firms (i.e. SM1–SM4 firms) identified improving product quality as the primary reason for pursuing ISO 9000 certification and the fourth firm (SM3) rated it as its second reason. Two of the four MCC firms listed expected process improvements as one of the top two reasons for seeking ISO certification. These findings suggest that the MCC firms were highly motivated to seek certification because of internal needs and forces rather than because of external market-driven forces. While some internally motivated reasons were cited by virtually all of the other firms in this study, the external market-driven reasons were their predominant reasons for certification. As a general observation, European firms appear to be much more aware of and motivated by the potential internal benefits of ISO 9000 certification than do US firms. Almost 64 per cent of the reasons given by the European firms relate to expected benefits in internal processes and procedures. In contrast, studies of firms in the US consistently reveal that firms are far more strongly motivated to seek certification because of external market forces (Atwater and Discenza, 1993Ebrahimpour et al., 1997Thayer, 1993Weston, 1995). Carlsson and Carlsson (1996)suggests these disparities reflect two issues: (1) differences in commitment to and ambition toward quality, and (2) differences in understanding of the potential that ISO certification offers for organizational improvements. The current study results suggest that European managers have a clearer understanding than US managers have of the objectives of ISO 9000. As a result, these firms appear to seek the synergism of the potential ISO 9000 benefits coupled with their internal commitment to quality improvement. Obstacles to ISO 9000 Certification: The most frequently cited obstacle encountered by the firms in this study was top management involvement. This reason was given by eight of the 11 firms. The impact that top management commitment has on the success of any quality initiative has been repeatedly documented (see for example, Tsiotras and Gotzamani, 1996, Withers et al., 1997 and Weston, 1995). It is noteworthy, however, that seven of the eight firms citing top management involvement as a problem, listed it as their fourth or fifth reason. These low ratings suggest that the issue may not have created particularly severe problems during the implementation effort. Another common problem reported by the firms was implementation time associated with the certification effort. All six of the firms citing implementation time as a problem rated it in the top three, and three of these firms listed it as the primary problem encountered. Time and costs have been important issues reported in studies of firms' ISO 9000 certification experiences (Atwater and Discenza, 1993Weston, 1995Vloeberghs and Bellens, 1996Carlsson and Carlsson, 1996Beattie and Sohal, 1999). However, Weston (1995)found that almost 70 per cent of US firms do not track the time involved in the certification effort. System change was cited as an implementation problem with the same frequency as implementation time. The six firms rating system changes as an obstacle placed it as one of the top three problems, and three firms listed it as the primary problem. Another problem encountered by these firms in their certification efforts stemmed from the difficulty interpreting the ISO 9000 standards. This problem has been reported previously (Carlsson and Carlsson, 1996, Lee and Palmer, 1999 and Beattie and Sohal, 1999), and stems from the fact that the standards are written in general terms so as to be applicable to any industry. The guidelines to the standards themselves state that it is each firm's responsibility to determine `…what specific adaptations, if any, have to be made' (International Organization for Standardization, 1994). Unfortunately, the guidelines to the ISO 9000 standards do not specify how to adapt the standards to a specific industry and has led to considerable problems for firms undertaking the certification effort (Parah, 1995). The difficulty of appropriately interpreting the standards appears to be a problem for both European and US firms (Tsiotras and Gotzamani, 1996Parah, 1995Garver, 1994). Impacts of ISO 9000 Certification on Quality: Each firm in the study uses a different subset of the eight dimensions of quality to gain its competitive advantage. None of the 11 firms reported any negative impacts on their respective quality dimensions as a result of implementing ISO 9000. Ten of the 11 firms in this study indicated that they compete on the basis of product performance. Of these, four firms have experienced no impacts as a result of their ISO 9000 certification effort; four reported somewhat positive impacts; and two reported very positive impacts. Only three firms cited features as a basis for competitive advantage. All three of these firms reported no impacts to this dimension as a result of certification. Eight of the firms identified reliability as a dimension from which they gain a competitive advantage. Six of these eight firms reported positive impacts on this dimension due to ISO 9000 certification; five of these six experienced somewhat positive impacts and one experienced very positive impacts. One firm reported no change as a result of its certification effort. Every one of the ten firms that identified conformance as a basis for competitive advantage indicated positive ISO 9000 certification impacts on this dimension. Six of the ten firms reported somewhat positive benefits and the remaining four firms reported very positive benefits. The strong impact that ISO 9000 certification had on the conformance dimension is consistent with the tenet put forth by Anderson et al. (1999)that ISO 9000 `proxies for …conformance to specifications.' Eight firms indicated that they gain a competitive advantage on the basis of durability. However, six of these eight firms reported no impacts on this dimension as a result of their certification. The two firms that did experience benefits report somewhat positive benefits due to certification. Eight firms also identified serviceability as a dimension from which they gain competitive advantage. Four of these firms experienced very positive impacts on their serviceability due to their ISO 9000 certification. Three firms reported somewhat positive benefits, and one firm reported no impact. Only three firms identified aesthetics as a basis for competitive advantage. None of these firms experienced any improvements in this dimension as a result of certification. This result is consistent with the contention by Anderson et al. (1999)that ISO 9000 does not `proxy for quality of design' and therefore would have little or no impact on aesthetics. Perceived quality was identified by eight of the eleven firms as a means of competitive advantage. Six of the eight reported very positive benefits to this dimension after receiving their ISO 9000 certification. One firm reported only somewhat positive benefits, and another firm indicated that there had been no change as a result of its certification. The impacts on this dimension would seem to substantiate the conclusion by others ( Anderson et al., 1999, Zhu and Scheuermann, 1999 and Sissell, 1996) that ISO 9000 certification serves as a signal to the public that a firm has effective quality management practices. As a result, if a firm competes on the basis of this quality dimension, then its competitiveness would be enhanced. An interesting observation is again associated with the MCC firms. Three of the four MCC firms reported very positive impacts on three quality dimensions each. Three of the four MCC firms also reported somewhat positive impacts on three other quality dimensions each. With the exception of firm I1, the MCC firms experienced stronger positive product quality improvements as a result of ISO certification than did the other European firms in this study. This result raises a question about why this difference has occurred. Since three of the four MCC firms identified improving product quality as their primary reason for seeking certification, a number of explanations exist. These greater improvements in product quality may be arising from a higher level of ambition and commitment to quality by the MCC companies compared with the other firms in the study. Since it has been argued that quality arises from the people, not the programs (Akers, 1991), the MCC companies' benefits may be stemming from good leadership. Alternatively, the benefits may have arisen because the MCC companies were more motivated to pursue certification by internal purposes than external forces. It could be argued that pursuing certification because of external forces, such as competitive pressures, market entry, or customer requirements, reflects a somewhat superficial reason for certification, in the context of the objective of ISO 9000 standards. Houser and Somers (1994)maintained that a company cannot reap the true benefits of ISO 9000 certification if that effort is not undertaken with the customer's satisfaction in mind; Thayer (1993)reported that companies taking the minimum approach won't benefit internally. The MCC companies' pursuit of their ISO 9000 certifications for the purposes of improving product and service quality suggests a strong customer orientation. As a result, it appears that these companies achieved benefits consistent with the goals of the International Organization for Standardization. While numerous articles report that companies derive benefits from their ISO 9000 certification efforts, virtually all of these benefits are reported as operational improvements, such as improved efficiencies, reductions in operating costs, reductions in scrap, and fewer defects (Reddish, 1994 and Beattie and Sohal, 1999). These benefits may or may not be transferred to the customer. There is only the implication that quality has risen because defects have decreased. This study provides evidence that quality, as reflected by its eight dimensions, does improve as a result of ISO 9000 certification. The dimensions that appear to benefit the most from improvements in one's quality system are reliability, conformance, serviceability, and perceived quality. The dimensions impacted the least by ISO 9000 are aesthetics and features.