The literature on quality-management standards has generally focused on the drivers, motivations, and performance effects of adopting such standards. Yet the last decade has witnessed a substantial degree of decertification behavior, as organizations have increasingly decided to voluntarily withdraw from quality-management standards by not recertifying. While the drivers of the decision to initially adopt quality-management standards have been extensively studied, the drivers of the decision to decertify have received scant scholarly attention. We argue that innovative organizations are generally prone to retaining quality-management certification and thus exhibit a tendency to not abandon certification; however, radically-innovative organizations are more prone than incrementally-innovative organizations to discontinue quality-management standards and thereby exhibit a tendency to withdraw from quality certification. We compile World Bank data surveying facilities based in 50 countries and 103 industrial sectors across the 2003 to 2017 period. Taking advantage of the data's panel properties yields a dataset composed of up to 1755 facility-level observations of recertification decisions for empirical analysis. Our empirical testing employs a probit estimation technique that accounts for the appropriate fixed effects and generates results that support our theoretical priors regarding decertification behavior.
Certification in internationally-recognized quality standards (e.g., ISO 9000, QS 9000, ISO 13485, and IATF 16949) across the globe by millions of firms and facilities over the last three decades has spurred a great deal of literature—see the reviews by Corbett and Yeung (2008), Heras-Saizarbitoria and Boiral (2013), and Castka and Corbett (2015). While many studies have focused on the internal and external performance effects of adopting these standards (e.g., Blind, 2001; Hendricks and Singhal, 2001; Corbett et al., 2005; Martínez-Costa et al., 2009; Levine and Toffel, 2010; Singh et al., 2011), Anderson et al.'s (1999) pioneering study established that deciphering the forces which lead to the adoption of quality-management standards represents a central research question within this literature. Factors such as organizational size, firm age, government mandates, customer pressure, supply chains, and export considerations (Corbett and Kirsch, 2001; Vastag, 2004; Corbett, 2006; Delmas and Montiel, 2009) have all been considered instrumental in explaining the decision of a particular facility to incur the costs to seek and obtain a quality-management standard.
Discussion and conclusions
While a healthy amount of scholarship exists regarding the factors influencing organizational adoption of quality-management standards, Castka and Corbett (2015), Cândido and Ferreira (2021b) and others have pointed out the share scarcity of scholarship focusing on the decision to voluntarily withdraw and decertify from quality standards. This relative neglect with respect to the drivers of decertification is somewhat out of step with a contemporary reality where organizations have been increasingly abandoning quality standards over the last decade (Castka and Corbett, 2015; Cândido et al., 2016, Cândido et al., 2021; Kafel and Simon, 2017; Mastrogiacomo et al., 2021). By neglecting the potential for withdrawal from quality-management standards, the certification literature has made incorrect inferences regarding the universal presence of continued adoption behavior. That is, the quality-certification literature has essentially assumed that adoption pressures unequivocally build for a focal organization when in fact these pressures can be alleviated to such a degree that organizations will begin to withdraw from quality standards.