Purpose - The research empirically investigates the firm-level impact of ISO 9000 certification on innovation propensity. The study aims to distinguish between manufacturing and service sectors and adopts different innovation definitions aimed at capturing the peculiarities of innovation in services and small firms. Design/methodology/approach - Relying chiefly on Community Innovation Survey data for Luxembourg, the impact of certification on innovation probability is assessed using a logit model that controls for relevant firms characteristics and market features. Findings - The innovation potential of services and small firms is understated when adopting innovation definitions restricted to technological aspects and more formalised innovation activities. ISO 9000 certification may promote innovation when adopting definitions that captures sectoral innovation specificities. In particular, certification increases innovation propensity in manufacturing when the focus is on technological innovation and formalised innovation expenditures. On the contrary, when non-technological aspects are included and allowance is made for wider innovation activities, the impact of certification on services tends to emerge. However, sharper statistical evidence for manufacturing indicates a more important role of certification for innovation success in this sector. Research limitations/implications - Case-study research could supplement the findings concerning the relative effectiveness of certification in services and manufacturing. The investigation would also benefit from extensions in the econometric analysis to address comparisons across samples and potential causality issues. Practical implications - Findings are interesting to practitioners and registrars in order to identify the specific characteristics of firms for which certification provides higher innovative potential. Originality/value - The study highlights the relevance of sectoral specificities and innovation definitions for the debate about the effect of ISO 9000 certification on innovation.

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Publication type:
  • Journal article
Other authors:
  • Giovanni Mangiarotti
  • Cesare Riillo
  • Luxembourg