• ISO 9000;
  • standards;
  • cross-national diffusion;
  • globalization;
  • institutionalism

Abstract: There is growing recognition that organizational innovations can have a major influence on the geography of economic activity. Yet, little is known about the mechanisms and geographic preconditions underlying their diffusion, particularly at the global level. In this article, we test a series of hypotheses about the conditions under which organizations are most likely to adopt ISO 9000, the internationally recognized set of standards for quality management, using panel data for 130 countries from 1995 to 2001. Our findings support the idea that transnational networks that connect different countries at the international level provide conduits for the cross-national transfer of new organizational practices. Thus, exports to the European Union, local involvement of transnational corporations (TNCs), European colonial ties, and the availability of telecommunications all emerge as statistically significant determinants of ISO adoptions. Our findings also underscore the importance of national environmental conditions in influencing the receptiveness of organizations to new practices. A low regulatory burden, a high share of manufacturing activity, high rates of secondary school enrollment, and low levels of productivity are positively correlated with the number of ISO 9000 certificates. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for current debates about the mechanisms, preconditions, and scales of organizational transfer, diffusion, and convergence.