Quality Systems and Standards for a Competitive Edge
This book argues for the urgent need for countries to move forward aggressively on adopting and upgrading quality and standards. The focus is on developing countries, many of which are lagging in the race for standards adoption, and within that category, on middle-income countries. The book analyzes the economic impact of quality and standards on economic growth, on international trade, and as an entry point for the industrial upgrading and mainstreaming of small enterprises. It offers detailed guidelines for the creation of national quality systems that can effectively support the use and adoption of standards. It describes the optimal structure for a national quality system, evaluates the precise roles of the public and private sectors, and proposes best-practice guidelines and norms for these roles. It also addresses the financing issue, including the extent of and rationale for targeted subsidies, and questions of jurisdiction. Special emphasis is given to international integration through mutual recognition agreements that enhance access to external markets-a key objective for developing countries. The first part of the book is generic and normative, providing empirical evidence and guidelines for reform. The second part describes and evaluates the performance of a number of Latin American countries with respect to various components of the national quality system. The first half of this book presents a conceptual framework, highlighting the importance of a national quality system and explaining its role in international trade and economic development. Chapter 2 examines the systemic impact of quality and standards on economic growth and international trade. In particular, it looks at the usefulness of standards as an entry point for technological upgrading and for the mainstreaming of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Chapter 3 addresses the relative roles and jurisdictions of the public and private sectors in the implementation of an effective national quality system. Chapter 4 presents the structure, organization, and functioning of the certification, testing, calibration, inspection, accreditation, and metrology bodies of the national quality system. Chapters 5 and 6 discuss international aspects of the system, especially the ISO 9000 quality management standards. Chapters 7 through 10 focus on the experience in Latin America and the Caribbean. These chapters examine the standards-setting institutions, certification activities, accreditation processes, and metrology institutions in this region. The last two chapters of the text turn to the policy framework. Chapter 11 analyzes existing policies and support programs implemented in several Latin American countries to facilitate the diffusion of standards and quality in the productive sector. Finally, chapter 12 presents detailed policy recommendations for developing countries for implementing effective national quality systems and ends with a brief conclusion.
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