NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Quality Certification and the Economics of Contract Software Development A Study of the Indian Software Industry

Ashish Arora, Jai Asundi

NBER Working Paper No. 7260
Issued in July 1999
NBER Program(s):   PR

A significant amount of software development is being outsourced to countries such as India. Many Indian software firms have applied for and received quality certifications like the ISO9001, and the number of quality certified software firms has steadily increased. Despite its growing popularity among Indian software developers, there is very little systematic evidence on the relationship of ISO certification to organizational performance. Using data on 95 Indian software firms and their US clients, we develop a stylized model of a firm that develops software for others to articulate the different ways in which ISO certification can affect firm profits. We conclude that ISO certification enhances firm growth. The results provide partial support for the proposition that ISO certification also enhances revenue for a given size, suggesting that firms are receiving a higher price per unit of output. In turn, this is consistent with the notion that ISO certification also enhances the quality of output. Our field studies confirm that although most firms see ISO certification as a marketing ploy, some of them do proceed to institute more systematic and better-defined processes for software development.

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