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Diffusion and Effects of Accredited Certification among Exporting Companies – Italian Study

The urgency of a productivity boost for Italian companies requires tools such as management systems that are certified by accredited certification bodies (CBs), which help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to position themselves along global value chains and increase their efficiency.

Francesca Nizzero
External Relations Manager
L’Ente Italiano di Accreditamento (Accredia)

The international economic and social picture has changed dramatically since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis. The European Union has cushioned the impact with a prompt and intense reaction, and through a massive economic stimulus from the European Central Bank.

In Italy, the government has launched substantial interventions to support families and businesses with its economic policies, but at this stage it is essential to build virtuous dynamics capable of accommodating new trends in the world economy impacting productivity.

But a new industrial policy that takes into account the exporting nature of our economy requires tools, such as accredited certification of management systems, capable of facilitating participation in global value chains and guaranteeing, through organizational and performance improvement, a fundamental boost in competitiveness.

The agreement signed in November 2018 between Accredia, the Italian Accreditation Body, and Istat, the National Institute of Statistics, made it possible for the first time to deepen the link between accredited certification and Italian exporting companies, providing a new element of study of the dynamics of international trade in goods.

The analysis of data on exporting companies which, at the end of 2018, held a management system certified by an accredited CB, affirms that accredited certification is a competitive factor for exporting companies, and that the diffusion of this tool facilitates the participation of Italian companies in global value chains.

At the end of 2018, around 19,000 out of a total of 123,000 exporting companies had a certified management system.

The certified exporting companies export goods worth over 230 billion euro and employ just under two million workers. Compared with the total of exporting companies, those with a management system certified by an accredited CB represent 15%, and 53% with respect to the total number of exporting companies and the total export value.

The diffusion of certifications increases in relation to company size and reaches over 50% for companies with more than 100 employees.

In general, the average number of destination countries of the exported goods is higher among certified companies, regardless of company size, and this fact confirms their greater integration in international markets. This gap also appears to be greater among SMEs than large ones (Figure 1). These results reinforce the belief that accredited certification proves its benefits especially among SMEs.

Figure 1 – Average number of destination countries of sales of manufactured goods exporters by class of employees – 2018

Source: Istat and Accredia data

The comparison by typology of goods exported among certified exporting companies and other exports also confirms a higher share of intermediate goods among the former, equal to over 35% of the total value exported by this category of operators (Figure 2). This is an important confirmation of the role of accredited certification within the global value chains in which Italian companies are widely involved.

Figure 2 – Breakdown of the export values per typology of exported goods – 2018 (% values)

Source: Istat and Accredia data

The data analysis confirms the leading role of accredited certification among exporting companies and the link with participation in value chains, especially in Europe. But accredited certification is also accompanied by greater productivity.

A positive productivity differential for certified exporting companies in the manufacturing sector compared to other exports has been demonstrated. This differential grows as the size of the company decreases, reaching, in the case of micro-enterprises, approximately 22,000 euros (Figure 3).

Figure 3 – Productivity differentials(1) among certified exporting manufacturing companies and other exporters, by class of employees – 2018 (value added per employee; thousands of euro)

Source: Istat and Accredia data

Download the research study here.

(1) Relationship between added value and employees of the export company.

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