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April 2002
Volume 9 • Number 2


The Impact of ISO Certification on the Levels of Awareness and Usage of Quality Tools and Concepts: A Survey of Turkish Manufacturing Companies
by Ceyhun Ozgur, Valparaiso University; Gary E. Meek, Black Hills State University; Aysegul Toker, Bogazici University

Total quality management and the implementation of quality systems have become major initiatives of companies throughout the world over the last 20 years. This is especially true for companies that are doing or wish to do business in the European Community.

For many of these companies, however, ISO certification has become a prerequisite when exporting their products. Companies must be able to demonstrate that they have the systems in place to provide a quality product if they wish to be competitive in the global marketplace. This article presents results of a survey of Turkish manufacturing companies. The study included 140 large Turkish manufacturing firms and investigates important relationships dealing with quality and the implementation of quality tools in Turkish manufacturing companies. The results lead to a greater understanding of the implementation of statistical tools and the relationship between the application of these tools and ISO certification in Turkey. Some of the results were surprising. There appeared to be significant differences in usage between ISO certified companies and noncertified companies for most of the basic standard quality tools but on only four of the advanced tools. ISO certified companies used more standard, basic quality tools than noncertified companies. Of the 13 advanced tools, however, the ISO certified companies used only four of them much more frequently. In addition, noncertified companies did not use any quality tool significantly more than ISO certified companies.

Key words: ISO certification, SPC, TQM, Turkey


Over the last 25 years, the emphasis on quality and total quality management (TQM) has grown throughout the world. The concepts of quality gurus such as W. Edwards Deming, J. M. Juran, and Philip Crosby became highly publicized. Japan's successful implementation of continuous improvement, Kaizen, and statistical quality tools, concepts, and practices started the worldwide quality revolution. Eventually, Japan became the world leader in quality for a wide range of products. Japan's emergence as a leader in quality products eroded markets of U. S. companies. In response, U. S. companies began implementing TQM in their operations. By improving the quality of their products, U. S. automobile makers recaptured much of their market share. Chrysler, in particular, has moved from the brink of bankruptcy to being a highly profitable company.

Companies must be able to demonstrate that they have the systems in place to provide a quality product if they wish to be competitive in the global market. The demand for quality in products and services brought about the development of the ISO 9000 series of quality system requirements and made ISO certification an important factor in the international marketplace. ISO quality certification has almost become a prerequisite for doing business in the global arena. This is especially true for companies that do business in the European Community. The effect of ISO certification on the quality of products, however, has not been clearly demonstrated.

The quality of Turkish products exported to European countries has been steadily improving. Evidence of this improvement is the number of European Quality Awards and prizes won by Turkish manufacturing companies in the last few years. In 1998, Beko Ticaret, a consumer durable goods manufacturing company, and Netas Inc., a Turkish telecommunications company, won the Small and Medium Enterprises Subsidiary, and the Large Business Sector European Quality Awards, respectively. In 2000, Eczacibasi Vitra, a major pharmaceutical company, and Arcelik A.S., another Turkish durable consumer goods manufacturer, were both named two of the "Large Business European Quality Prize" winners. Many Turkish manufacturing companies export their products to European and other countries around the world. The prospect of European Union (EU) membership improves Turkish firms' abilities to export their goods to other EU members.

The objectives of this survey of Turkish manufacturing companies are to identify:

  1. The level of knowledge of quality tools and concepts among managers
  2. The extent of implementation and use of quality tools and concepts in the companies
  3. The impact of ISO certification on knowledge level and implementation

The companies surveyed are primarily large manufacturing firms throughout Turkey. Some of these companies are involved in joint ventures with firms outside of Turkey.

The project included 140 Turkish companies that responded to the survey. Comparisons are made on an item-by-item basis using actual responses for the items in question. The responses are compared across company size, level of quality certification, and geographical location. Statistical comparisons by business type were not made since the companies surveyed were involved in manufacturing. Demographics on the survey respondents are presented descriptively.

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