The purpose of this paper is to understand what are the benefits in terms of improvement of performances that a local government organization (LGO) can achieve embracing ISO 9001 certification as a strategy. This research is aimed at contributing to the answering of this question by exploring the Italian situation, in particular organizations linked to Italian local government which provide services to the citizens.
This research is based on mixed methodologies. First, a qualitative interview based on a semi-structured interview guide was administered to ten LGO quality managers. From this first qualitative inquiry 11 hypotheses to be validated have been stated. A survey has been carried out to validate the hypotheses. By means of two distinct questionnaires each hypothesis has been transformed into a specific question. The question is based on the Likert scale which allows using a χ2-test and non-parametric test such as Cramer’s V. The results from the scale were augmented by the interviewees’ annotations, which comprised suggestions and comments, to each question. The questionnaires have been administered over the last five years to 201 LGOs.
From the findings it seems that ISO 9001 could improve performances in terms of effectiveness, such as citizens’ satisfaction, reduction of defectiveness and claims, as well as staff awareness of citizens’ needs. Moreover, ISO 9001 seems to have a negative effect on citizens’ participation, internal communication and teamwork as well as cost reduction. Controversial issues related to the bureaucracy of documentation and the external auditing process emerged.
The findings are linked to Italian LGOs therefore they need further validation in other European countries where LGOs are managed in a similar way.
The implications of this research are useful for consultants and managers who want to understand what the benefits and limitations of the ISO 9001 certification are in the LGOs. The results are also useful for local government managers and practitioners who are weighing the pros and cons of ISO 9001 certification.
The paper discusses in a quantitative way the benefits of ISO 9001 certification process on the performances of LGOs opening an interesting debate on the topic.
Chiarini, A. (2016), "Strategies for improving performance in the Italian local government organizations: Can ISO 9001 really help?", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 344-360. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJQRM-03-2014-0038Download as .RIS
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