• Mantas Vilkas Kaunas University of Technology
  • Sigitas Vaitkevičius Kaunas University of Technology



ISO 9000 series standards, reasons of implementation, institutionalism


It is widely known that ISO 9000 series standards are type of operational effectiveness improvement systems based on the idea of total quality management. These standards are promoted by Europe-based International Organization for Standardization. They are mostly known because of well developed opportunity to get adequate credentials after implementation, which signal that organization has created and implemented a system of continuous improvement of operational effectiveness according to the world-class practice.

The first group of reasons of implementation of ISO 9000 standards is based on the logic of these systems. They are designed to improve operational effectiveness. Organizations, which implement ISO 9000 standards, at first, engage in process management techniques. They analyze, improve processes, their interaction and collectively adhere to improved processes (Benner and Tushman, 2003). Second, they initiate continuous problem solving, whose success is judged by decreasing costs and increasing customer satisfaction (Haeys et al., 2004). The result of these standards is more informed, motivated and collaborating employees, who show initiative in continuous problem solving in more defined organizational context (Vilkas, 2011). Corbet et al. (2005) used event-study methods and matched each of selected 554 ISO 9000 certified firms to a control group of one or more non-certified firms in the same industry with similar size and return on assets. They found that certification was followed by “significant abnormal improvements in financial performance” and three years after certification, the certified firms do display “strongly significant abnormal performance” under all control-group specifications (p.1046). Simmons and White (2002), Terzovski et al. (2001), Lima et. al (2000) Beirao et al. (2002) report supporting results. Other studies cast doubt on such positive results (Anderson et al., 2005; Martinez-Costa et al., 2003). The nature of motives and maturity of quality culture have been identified as strongest moderators on ISO effects of standards implementation (Terzowski, 2003).

Institutional factors comprise the second group of motives of ISO 9000 standards implementation. Coercive, imitational and normative factors influence the diffusion of the standards affecting firm’s decisions to implement them. Guler and Guillen (2002) results provide support that states and foreign multinationals are the key actors responsible for coercive isomorphism. Cohesive trade relationships between countries generate coercive and normative effects, and role-equivalent trade relationships result in learning-based and competitive imitation. Corbet (2006) used firm-level data of more than 5,000 firms in nine countries. He found that part of the global diffusion of ISO 9000 did move upstream in global supply chains.

In Lithuania there were two surveys analyzing motives of ISO 9000 implementation. Urbonavičius (2005) used qualitative methods to analyze 193 small and medium organizations (65 in Estonia, 65 in Lithuania and 63 in Latvia). He found that institutional factors dominated decision to implement ISO 9000 standards (improvement of exports, possibility to participate in public tenders, and improvement of image). Ruževičius et al. surveyed 31 organizations and concluded that implementation decision was based on expectations that quality management systems “ensure constant quality level of products manufacturing”, “help satisfy customer needs better”, and “improve competitiveness of the company” (2003, p. 178). Because these surveys provide conflicting results, the objective of the paper is to survey the motives of ISO 9000 standards implementation in Lithuania.

Literature analysis, and sample survey methods have been used to achieve the objective of the paper. In 2009 there were 991 organizations, which implemented ISO 9000 standards in Lithuania. 90 questionnaires have been processed after sending it to all sample. Results show mixed motives of implementation where institutional motives dominate. “We expected to be valued as more reliable partner” and “It was part of image shaping process” (adequately 2,62 and 2,44 in z scale, where stand. dev 0,18) dominate decision to adopt ISO 9000 in Lithuania. This shows that ISO standards are treated like rational myths (Meyer and Rowan, 1977). Lithuanian organizations implement standards while seeking to legitimate their action: signalling that they are aware of the contemporary quality assurance practices. Results are closer to Urbonavičius’ (2005) study than to the findings of Ruževičius et. al. (2004).







Management Trends