Uneven geographies of organizational practice: explaining the cross-national transfer and adoption of ISO 9000
There is growing recognition that organizational innovations can have a major influence on the geography of economic activity. Yet, very little is known about the mechanisms and geographic preconditions underlying their diffusion, particularly at the global level. In this paper we seek to fill this gap using the example of ISO 9000, the internationally- recognized set of standards for quality management. We develop a series of hypotheses about the conditions under which organizations are most likely to adopt ISO 9000. These hypotheses are then tested using panel data for 130 countries over the period 1995-2001. Our findings support the idea that transnational network ties linking countries to the wider global community influence adoption decisions. Thus, exports to the EU and Japan, local involvement of transnational corporations (TNCs), colonial ties to Europe and the availability of telecommunications, all emerge as statistically significant determinants of ISO 9000 counts. Our results also underscore the importance of national environmental conditions. Low regulatory burden, a high share of manufacturing activity, high rates of secondary school enrolment and low levels of productivity are positively associated with a high number of certificates. We conclude that globalization has increased the mobility of organizational innovations across national borders. Yet, country- level variations in (a) transnational network linkages and (b) environmental conditions influencing the receptiveness of organizations to new economic practices, suggest that spatial unevenness is an inevitable feature of organizational diffusion at the global level.
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