This article explores different performance configurations resulting from the implementation of an ISO 9000 system in 872 certified organizations. The configurations drawn up here are based on the crossing of traditional performance criteria related to the implementation of ISO 9000 and organizational problems stemming from the implementation of the standard. This crossing leads to the definition of four effectiveness configurations that reflect the paradoxes and degrees of success of iSO 9000 implementation. The logistic regression model developed here sheds light on variables that explain the occurrence of these four effectiveness configurations. The results of the quantitative study show that internal and managerial motivation to adopt ISO 9000 often positively affects the likelihood of a certified organization to achieve a better-performing effectiveness configuration. These results also suggest that the implementation of ISO 9000 frequently remains fairly superficial and often corresponds to a kind of "rational myth" (Meyer and Rowan 1977) or "system of structures somewhat distinct from internal practices and designed instead to project a rational and legitimate image of the organization in question."
Paradoxes of Iso 9000 Performance: A Configurational Approach
INTRODUCTIONIn the wake of their introduction in 1987, ISO 9000 quality assurance standards developed rapidly and are now embraced by increasing numbers of countries. By 2007, nearly one million organizations worldwide were certified, an increase of some 25 percent over 2005 (International Organization for Standardization 2007). To a large extent, this rapid growth may be explained by the commercial aspects of the certification process. First, ISO 9000 certification is often required to access certain markets and meet international invitations to tender (Jaideep, Hung, and Manu 1996; Douglas et al. 1999)· Second, the development of international standards such as ISO 9000 tends to foster international trade by reducing obstacles to local or sectorial standards used as barriers to market entry (Sampson 2000; Brunsson andjacobsson 2002). Third, using ISO 9000 often reinforces confidence in business relationships by reducing transaction costs between often distant and somewhat unfamiliar commercial partners (Anderson, Daly, and Johnson 1999) and by promoting signals of quality (Gemser, Leenders, and Wijnberg 2008) among stakeholders.Despite the rapid increase in the number of certified organizations, the impact of ISO 9000 certification on performance remains controversial (Sroufe and Curkovic 2007; Boirai and Roy 2007). While some studies underline the benefits of certification in improving quality and commercial performance (Standards Council of Canada 2000; Poksinska, Dahlgaard, and Antoni 2002; Tari and Molina 2002; Sila 2006; Naveh and Marcus 2005; Sroufe and Curkovic 2007), others cast doubt on these improvements or attempt to spotlight some of the perverse effects of certification (Walgenbach 2001; Boirai 2003; Douglas, Coleman, and Oddy 2003; Boirai and Roy 2007). Besides the specificities of ISO 9000 standards, these controversies illustrate the complexity and paradoxes related to measuring organizational performance. Indeed, to avoid being restricted to a narrow perspective of performance, effectiveness evaluation assumes that various criteria, including ineffectiveness criteria, are considered in order to achieve a more comprehensive outlook (Cameron 1984; Herman and Renz 2004; Henri 2004). This broader approach allowed the authors to define several performance configurations and focus on the paradoxes and conflicting results that can ensue when certain criteria are taken into consideration.The main objective of this study is to analyze ISO 9000 effectiveness from a configurational standpoint to shed light on the different effectiveness patterns and variables likely to explain the emergence of specific configurations. In particular, this article illustrates the paradoxes between traditional performance criteria, especially the commercial impacts of the standard and, conversely, the resistance and internal problems resulting from ISO 9000 implementation. These paradox...