ISO 9000 Explained

Cite this article as:"ISO 9000 Explained," in The Business Professor, updated November 29, 2018, last accessed December 4, 2020,


ISO 9000 Explained

In the year 1987, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) established the ISO 9000 family of standards. This family comprises a system of numbers utilized in documenting a system’s quality effectiveness.

A Little More on What is ISO 9000

This family of standards forms its basis on certain quality management principles known as (QMPs). In a bid to help manufacturers to effectively record the elements in a quality control system, QMPs were created. Senior management can apply these principles in order to improve the organization.

  • The first is the customers’ focus. Here, there is a need for the organization to know the needs of their customers. Hence, making them align the goals of the organization with their customers’ needs and expectations. Their focus should be on the experience and satisfaction of their customer.
  • Leadership is next. A goal and direction need to be set up by the organization. They should be helpful in creating a work environment that motivates people to accomplish the set goals of the organization. Finally, in order to build trust and empower employees, certain organizational values should be in place.
  • Involving employees is necessary. The organization is meant to engage and motivate all employees to continually improve, learn and share information. This is needed because employees at all levels are important and their full potential would benefit the organization.
  • The process approach is the next principle. In order to achieve results more efficiently, the required activities, as well as, available resources need to be managed as a process. By doing this, resources would be distributed properly and opportunities would be prioritized.
  • Improvement is another important principle. The permanent goal of an organization should be to improve its performance and also capabilities. When organizations empower people, measure improvement and celebrate success in improvements, it would go a long way in positively affecting overall performance.
  • Decision making based on evidence is also a principle. For more effectiveness, decisions should be made based on data collected and also its analysis. The data analysis should be supported with real-life experiences.
  • The last principle is the relationship management. In order to achieve more, an organization needs to have a mutually beneficial relationship with its external providers. Since both parties rely on each other, they need to have a relationship that benefits both of them.

ISO 9000 became popular in Europe after their first publication in 1987 before extending it to the U.S. in the 1990s. With an aim at achieving quality assurance worldwide, the standards have been modified with the passage of time. Currently, quality management entails good process management which comprises both human resources and the technical part. September 2015 marked the publishing of the latest versions of ISO 9000 and 9001 apart from the previous versions created in 2000 and 2008.


In the ISO 9000 family, organizations can utilize the 9001 version for certification purpose. This process spans for over one year and tons of documentation are required in order to align with the ISO standard. ISO 9000 certification cannot be granted to individuals or organizations.

References for ISO 9000

Academic Research on ISO 9000

  • Global competition, institutions, and the diffusion of organizational practices: The international spread of ISO 9000 quality certificates, Guler, I., GuillĂ©n, M. F., & Macpherson, J. M. (2002). Administrative science quarterly, 47(2), 207-232. This article analyzes global competition, institutions, and organizational practices. Between 1993 and 1998, 85 countries were analyzed with panel data on ISO 9000 quality certification. This was done to comprehend organizational practice based on cross-national diffusion. The theory used is the neo-institutional theory and the focus is on effects such as the normative, coercive, and mimetic. These effects arise from exposing firms in a particular country to a strong source of critical resources and the experiences of firms that are in other countries. In order to understand how firms in various countries influence one another’s adoption rates, social network theory is used.
  • The financial impact of ISO 9000 certification in the United States: An empirical analysis, Corbett, C. J., Montes-Sancho, M. J., & Kirsch, D. A. (2005). Management science, 51(7), 1046-1059. This article is based on an empirical analysis of how ISO 9000 certification has impacted finance in the United States. This standard was introduced in 1986 and over 560,000 countries have adopted it all over the world. Based on anecdotal evidence, firms have the ability to gain internal benefits like productivity improvements. Certification can also help firms to increase or maintain their market share. The study employs methods based on event-study in order to match each registered firm to a control group that consists of one or more unauthorized ones in the same industry, having a return on assets or a precertification size that is similar. It is then discovered that the decision of firms to get their first ISO 9000 certification resulted in tremendous abnormal improvement in their financial performance.
  • Why firms seek ISO 9000 certification: regulatory compliance or competitive advantage?, Anderson, S. W., Daly, J. D., & Johnson, M. F. (1999).Production and operations management, 8(1), 28-43. This article explicates the reasons why firms go after the ISO 9000 certification. This could be as a result of either competitive advantage or regulatory compliance. The proponents of the ISO 9000 certification opine that it is a useful component of total quality management and it is what firms commit to for quality. According to critics, it is not completely related to total quality management and serves as a tariff on foreign trade. Based on the results generated, support goes to the view of the proponents in support of ISO 9000.
  • ISO 9000 series-Certification and performance, Singels, J., RuĂ«l, G., & Van De Water, H. (2001). International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 18(1), 62-75. This article analyzes the performance of ISO 9000 and its series-certification. Here, the study is based on the existing relationship between the ISO 9000 series certification and how organizations are performing. Often times, claims arise that ISO certification enables the improvement in how organizations perform. The major aim of this research is to discover if ISO certification truly improves the performance of organizations. This is highly important for organizations seeking this certification in a bid to improve and enhance their performance. In order to test the hypothesis, five performance indicators are used and these are company result, personnel motivation, investment on means, production process, and customer satisfaction.
  • ISO 9000: marketing motivations and benefits, Buttle, F. (1997). International journal of quality & reliability management, 14(9), 936-947. This article pays attention to ISO 9000 with particular reference to marketing motivations, as well as, its benefits. Based on the reports of the biggest ever national survey in which the ISO 9000 was installed in exactly 95,000 companies worldwide. Based on the marketing survey that was carried out, it was concluded that process improvement was valued more than marketing benefits.
  • The longitudinal effects of the ISO 9000 certification process on business performance, Terziovski, M., Power, D., & Sohal, A. S. (2003). European Journal of operational research, 146(3), 580-595. This paper focuses on the ISO 9000 certification process and its relation to business. It also analyzes its longitudinal effects on business performance. Several hypotheses are developed and tested in this paper in relation to the ISO 9000 quality system certification process. The data were collected during a study in Australia. Based on the multivariate analysis used for analysis and testing, it is discovered that there is a favorable relationship between the manager’s reason for using ISO 9000 certification and business performance. Customer pressure was the major reason behind the motivation to seek ISO 9000 certification. In the 21st century, the ability of ISO 9001-2000 to conform and perform effectively based on the organization’s requirement will determine how well managers would accept or reject the ISO 9000 certification.
  • Total quality management, ISO 9000 certification and performance improvement, Sun, H. (2000). International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 17(2), 168-179. This article analyzes total quality management. This work embarks on a research to discover the link between ISO 9000 certification, TQM, and the improvement of business performance. The survey was carried out in Norway and it was discovered that business performance and customer satisfaction can be improved upon through TQM criteria such as human resource development, quality leadership, and quality information. But neither of these criteria can guarantee improved performance. Instead, all the criteria collectively work together to achieve this improvement. Based on the study, it is discovered that ISO 9000 standards and TQM implementation are not really related.
  • A comparative study of TQM practice and organisational performance of SMEs with and without ISO 9000 certification, Rahman, S. U. (2001). International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 18(1), 35-49. This study explains TQM practice and how SMEs are performing both with ISO 9000 certification and without it. Of recent, a trusted report shows that the quality standards and philosophy have not fully reached the center point of Australia’s commercial base. This study uses the Australian Business Excellence (ABE) framework to assess TQM practices. Based on the results, there was no major difference between the presence or absence of ISO 9000 certification in SMEs.
  • Smaller enterprises’ experiences with ISO 9000, Brown, A., Van Der Wiele, T., & Loughton, K. (1998). International journal of quality & reliability management, 15(3), 273-285. This article analyzes how smaller enterprises perform with ISO 9000 certification. Here, the focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their experience with ISO 9000 certification. The survey is based on a questionnaire survey carried out in Western Australia. It explores issues such as the benefits and disadvantages of certification, as well as, why it was sought. Based on findings, reports show that SMEs are having mixed results from the series certification. While some show internal benefit reports, a whole lot are not having external benefits.
  • The effect of certification with the ISO 9000 Quality Management Standard: A signaling approach, Terlaak, A., & King, A. A. (2006). Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 60(4), 579-602. This article approaches the effects of ISO 9000 certification using signals. Based on the theory used, it is suggested that management standard certification might decrease information asymmetries in supply chains. Hence, generating a highly competitive advantage for authorized firms. Based on the result of the survey, it is discovered that authorized facilities have faster growth after certification.
  • Does ISO 9000 certification improve business performance?, Chow-Chua, C., Goh, M., & Boon Wan, T. (2003). International journal of quality & Reliability management, 20(8), 936-953. This article takes the form of a question by asking if ISO 9000 certification enhances business performance. Based on empirical analysis, the work aims at discovering if certification has truly helped the performance of companies, authorized and unauthorized. After surveying 146 firms, it is discovered that certification improves financial performance generally but programs are not monitored adequately.

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