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Quality certification and firm performance. The mediation of human capital


  • Juan Miguel Gallego
  • Luis H. Gutiérrez Ramírez


Purpose - This paper investigates the impact of adopting quality management standards like ISO9001 on a firm's performance and the mediator role of human capabilities within firms in this relationship. The article analyses this mediator effect in the context of an emerging economy that set a policy reform aimed at increase ISO adoption and with a large share of informal labour markets. Design/methodology/approach - This study implements a quantitative approach, applying a Difference in Differences-DiD model with a Propensity Score Matching on fixed effect panel data analysis of a sample of certified and non-certified firms using firm-level data obtained from the national statistics office of Colombia. This methodology allows having comparable groups before the policy implementation. It reduces differences in observable characteristics and controls for parallel trends in primary outcomes before the policy reform. Findings - The research findings suggest that after Colombian policy reform of the quality system (2006), firms that adopted ISO 9001 certification increased innovation (5.2%), labour productivity (4.6%), sales (5.7%) and wages (4.9%). Furthermore, it shows that the share of permanent workers is an essential mediator in adopting quality programs. Adopters firms with a large percentage of temporary workers weaken their initial investment in quality infrastructure. Research limitations/implications - This research does not consider one key aspect. This is the lack of information about the organizational culture inside Colombian organizations that is related to a successful implementation of Quality Management standards like ISO 9001. However, it does not affect the conclusion about the mediation effect of human capital in the relationship between ISO 9001 and firm performance. Practical implications - The study covered all the Colombian manufacturing firms with ten or more employees. It provides critical insight for managers to value implementing ISO 9001 certification and appropriately put attention to enhancing their firms' human capital in emerging economies. Also, a policy implication of the paper is that governmental efforts to strengthen quality infrastructure in emerging economies should also include steps to increase a firm's investment in human capital. Originality/value - This study provides further support for government policies to strengthen firms' incentives to adopt modern management practices. The strong effects of implementing these management practices on sales, productivity and innovation have been identified. Furthermore, the investments in quality infrastructure must be accompanied by investment in human capital and workforce stability.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Miguel Gallego & Luis H. Gutiérrez Ramírez, 2021. "Quality certification and firm performance. The mediation of human capital," International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 72(3), pages 710-729, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijppmp:ijppm-12-2020-0643
    DOI: 10.1108/IJPPM-12-2020-0643

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