Quality assurance in supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic: empirical evidence on organisational resilience of conformity assessment bodies
Global supply chains rely on the compliance and safety of their products, processes, and facilities. These vital services (often referred to as ‘quality assurance’ or conformity assessment’ services) are provided by Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs). This empirical study explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on CABs as well as their response to the resulting challenges. Data was gathered through an online survey among all accredited CABs in Germany, which resulted in 555 valid responses. Taking a resilience perspective, we reveal that CABs were hit hard by the disruptions caused by the pandemic, albeit to different degrees, in part due to their type of services, size, and sectors served. Furthermore, we find that contingency plans do not directly cushion order declines (as the main indicator of the economic impact of the pandemic) but rather indirectly through helping CABs respond more quickly, which in turn mitigates their order declines. However, our results show that contingency plans can also have adverse effects if they hinder flexible reaction to the crisis. The findings of our study help managers and policymakers learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and improve the resilience of the conformity assessment sector and quality assurance in the event of future crises.
Asna Ashari, Parsa