Attribution Testing: Exposing the Influence of Reverse Causation in the Attribution of Better Performance to ISO 9000 Quality Management Systems

Dick, Gavin P.M. and Heras‐Saizarbitoria, Iñaki and Casadesus, Marti (2006) Attribution Testing: Exposing the Influence of Reverse Causation in the Attribution of Better Performance to ISO 9000 Quality Management Systems. Working paper. KBS, University of Kent, Canterbury (Full text available)

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Abstract

ISO 9000 Management Systems adoption (QCert) has proven to be a persistent and growing phenomenon, yet to date little research has been done that can safely attribute improved business performance benefits to it. The paper examines the evidence for the causal links between QCert and improved performance in the empirical literature. Tests for attribution of performance improvement are proposed that analyze, effect, cause and effect magnitude and these are illustrated to show how they influence the interpretation of results. The attribution testing method is then used to interpret the results of two USA and two European longitudinal studies and the role of reverse causation is shown to be a major mechanism that explains the superior performance of the certified firms. The analyses cast doubt on any inference causality being drawn from the broad literature that finds an association of ISO 9000 accreditation with better business performance since it indicates that the strongest direction of causality is that firms with superior performance are more likely to have certification, not that certified firms are more likely to have superior performance. The findings have profound implications for the interpretation of causation in the substantial literature that shows QCert is associated with improved business performance. For researchers the paper provides logic for testing the influence of reverse causation on results and it demonstrates the potential confusion of attribution that can lead to the development of flawed or incomplete theory.

Item Type: Monograph (Working paper)
Additional information: Working Paper No 115.
Uncontrolled keywords: Causality, ISO 9000, Performance, Quality.
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Business School
Depositing User: John Smith
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2009 10:31
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2014 13:47
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/22072 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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