Raising awareness of the benefits of certification and assurance services


Accredited certification benefits

Total quality management, ISO 9000 certification and performance improvement

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Mgt

Research carried out in ‘Total quality management, ISO 9000 certification and performance improvement‘ (Sun, 2000) sought to understand the relationship between ISO 9000 certification, the enablers of Total Quality Management (TQM) and company performance. The research was carried out based on 316 questionnaires from members of the Norwegian Quality Association (NFK) in 1997, all certified to ISO 9000, with 57% from manufacturing, 27% service and 16% other including. research institutes. The aim was to test a number of hypothesis, with those relating to certification: 1. ISO 9000 certification has a positive impact on business performance; 2. ISO certification has a positive impact on the implementation of TQM. The results of these hypothesis tests were:

  1. Business performance – ‘Some aspects of performance, including reducing product defect, network cost, warranty costs and customer complaints are significantly different between companies with and without certification (positively for certification)’.
  2. TQM enablers – ‘In those companies with ISO 9000 certification, the availability of quality information, quality assurance of product, quality of processes and co-operation with customers are significantly higher than those without ISO certification’.

The results summarise that ‘companies with ISO 9000 certification perform better in the reduction of bad products and customer complaints, profitability and productivity.’ A note of caution is struck, ‘In addition, a casual relationship is still not clear. The ISO standards may indirectly contribute to performance. They may also indirectly contribute to performance by improving other TQM enablers.’

The key issue of the likely outcome of certification being based on attitude going into the process is also addressed. ‘If it (seeking certification) is only for the purpose of getting a certificate and an advertisement, the documents and procedures will destroy the normal business process and will not contribute to improvement of performance. In this case, the ISO 9000 certificate is unlikely to contribute. The implication is that a company must integrate ISO 9000 procedures with the philosophy, human resource development and strategic management in TQM’.

The conclusion of this research makes it clear, ‘TQM and ISO standards must be completely and systemically implemented and integrated’.

Paper available to purchase.


  • Sun, H. (2000), ‘Total quality management, ISO 9000 certification and performance improvement’, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Volume 17, Number 2, pp 168-79.

City University of Hong Kong (Sun)