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Exploring performance attribution: the case of quality managment systems adoptions and business performance

Dick, Gavin P.M. (2009) Exploring performance attribution: the case of quality managment systems adoptions and business performance. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 58 (4). pp. 311-328. ISSN 1741-0401. (doi:10.1108/17410400910950991) (KAR id:20773)


Purpose. Accreditation to the ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems Standard has proven to be a persistent and growing phenomenon in services and manufacturing, yet to date little attempt has been made to explore how performance results in cross-sectional research may be attributed to different causation mechanisms and how their influences may alter over time.

Methodology. The paper defines four possible causation mechanisms before searching and analysing the empirical literature on quality management system certification to ISO 9001 and business performance for evidence of their causal influence.

Findings. From the analyses it is found that the benefit that can safely be attributed to the treatment-effect of ISO 9001 accreditation is lower waste; while the benefits of lower costs and better quality are less likely unless motives for adoption are developmental rather than externally driven. From an analysis of longitudinal studies a strong selection-mechanism is found where more profitable firms have a greater propensity to adopt than less profitable firms. From the finding propositions are developed to show how the influence of these mechanisms change over time.

Implications for research. The existence of the selection-mechanism has profound implications for interpreting business performance achievements because the benefits that are attributed to the treatment-effect from adopting quality management system standards are likely to be greatly inflated by the influence of the selection-mechanism. The author suggests that richer theory is needed that can incorporate bi-directional influences and new research is needed to explore the underlying causes of the selection effect.

Value of paper. The paper is believed to be the first to systematically explore attribution of performance in the ISO 9001 literature. Its findings provide new insights into the complexities of attribution of performance in studies of new practices and systems.


Performance, Causation, Quality, ISO 9001 Certification.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/17410400910950991
Additional information: Research Paper
Uncontrolled keywords: Performance management, Quality, ISO 9000 series, Business performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Kent Business School (do not use)
Depositing User: Gavin Dick
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2010 12:21 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 09:58 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Dick, Gavin P.M..

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