Using case study methodology, the authors asked quality managers about their company’s experience with ISO 9000:1994 and total quality management (TQM) implementation. The results show that initially the standard could help some companies reorganize their procedures and define responsibilities and duties. However, managers’ perspectives on its possible effect on company performance are not positive. Only product quality improves after implementation. On the contrary, TQM has improved many aspects of performance, the most influential aspects being those “soft” dimensions of leadership and human resource management. These aspects were not included in ISO 9000:1994. After analyzing ISO 9000 as a first step toward the TQM implementation, as much of the literature advises, the authors’ findings suggest that managers consider it to be a disturbing element when implemented jointly with TQM. Their study points out that, in practice, there are two parallel quality systems in a company. To get better results, it is important to adapt ISO requirements to facilitate TQM implementation; otherwise, the only advantage of the registration is the “permission” to selling the market.
Over the last decade, ISO 9000 certification has been the subject of many articles. The phenomenon of its quick development led to a belief that it was a great advantage for a company to attain registration. In keeping with this, many researchers tried to identify the impact of ISO 9000 certification on companies’ results and management. An important group of researchers has not found any strong positive relationship between certification and results. However, there is another group of articles that points out an influence of registration on product quality. Apart from any influence derived from implementation, some authors advocated that certification could be a good first step toward a total quality management (TQM) system, raising awareness of quality among workers and a good climate in which to implement it. Regarding this point, implementation of the standard was advised with the aim of implementing TQM in order to obtain maximum benefits from the registration (Brecka, 1994; Meegan and Taylor 1997; Huarng, Horng, and Chen 1999; Hughes, Williams, and Ryall 2000; Sun 2000; Gotzamani and Tsiotras 2002). The question is: Do companies really implement ISO certification with this aim? Is the accepted wisdom that ISO certification could “help” companies attain a TQM system true? Which aspects of ISO do that? The purpose of this research is to empirically evaluate the real contribution of ISO 9000 toward TQM implementation.
Case study methodology is best when the objective is to build theory in preliminary phases of a research study or to add new perspectives to previous research (Yin 1994). Part of this research can be considered as preliminary, because there is still little evidence on how the ISO 9000 and TQM act jointly in management. The objective of the case study is not the statistical generalization, but the analytical one. This methodology tries to generalize from case to theory; it does not attempt to extrapolate facts from sample to population. Relating to the number of cases, the lower number will allow the researcher to obtain more information (Voss, Tsikriktsis, and Frohlich 2002). However, a multiple case study increases reliability and external validity.
• Predict similar results (literal replication)
• Get different results due to predictable reasons\
The authors chose a multiple case study instead of a single one to increase external validity and reliability. Fourteen companies among the biggest manufacturing companies in Spain were selected for the study. The cases were selected with the condition of being certified at least by the ISO 9000:1994. Three of them were applying TQM and two were recently certified by the new version of ISO 9000:2000. The case study protocol included two...
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