The impacts and success factors of ISO 9001 in education: experiences from Portuguese vocational schools

António Jorge Gamboa, Nuno Filipe Melão

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the benefits, disadvantages and success factors associated with the adoption of ISO 9001:2000 in educational organizations, more specifically in Portuguese vocational schools. Design/methodology/approach: Through a rigorous literature review, an a priori model was developed which was then refined and validated by case studies in five Portuguese vocational schools. Findings: The findings reveal rich and meaningful insights into a much under-researched area, including four internal benefits, two external benefits, three disadvantages and four success factors. This research uncovered that vocational schools are using the standard as a means to provide strategic focus and as a foundation for planning. Interestingly, contrarily to previous studies, bureaucracy is depicted in a more positive light and, management commitment and support is not seen as the most important success factor. Practical implications: The findings suggest the need, on the one hand, for schools to be more proactive in showing the benefits of quality concepts and the certification to stakeholders, and, on the other hand, for international and national quality bodies to make more efforts to produce, divulge and maintain ISO 9000 interpretation guides tailored to the specific needs of educational institutions. Overall, the findings may assist practitioners in identifying courses of action to make the implementation of this standard more effective. Originality/value: This paper validates and extends the dispersed findings of existing literature by providing a useful unifying conceptual model of the impacts and success factors of ISO 9001 in vocational education, which can be tested in other levels of education, countries and application domains. This is also perhaps the first reported study of its kind conducted at a European country.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)384-401
    Number of pages18
    JournalInternational Journal of Quality and Reliability Management
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


    • Education
    • Impacts
    • ISO 9000 series
    • ISO 9001
    • Portugal
    • Quality management systems
    • Success factors
    • Vocational education
    • Vocational training


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