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Measuring the impacts of quality infrastructure


The approach to impact studies on quality services outlined in this article states that they have to pass through three stages: establishment of an impact theory, verification of the theory, interpretation of the results. The impact theory defines the range of possible positive and negative impacts resulting from the functioning of a quality service or of a group of quality services, identifies the stakeholders and the impacts channels. To verify the impacts, a methodology has to be selected from a variety of possible approaches according to the information required, the information available, and the kind of impacts that are at stake. Interpreting the results requires situating the impacts in a context, in a strategy, listing the limitations of the study and proposing ways of optimizing the outcomes.

The purpose of this report is to offer a better understanding about the kind of methodologies that researchers should employ when assessing the impacts of quality services. We start by presenting the concept of quality infrastructure as constitutive of innovation systems, and as having certain characteristics (i.e. strong complementarities between the various services and the need for public intervention) that need to be addressed when developing impact studies. In the second chapter, a theory of impacts  concerning quality infrastructure is delineated, the outcomes that its individual elements are expected to produce are summarized. The outlined theory of impacts is confronted with the existing impact assessment studies on quality services in the third chapter. In the fourth chapter, based both on the presented theory of impacts and on the methods employed in existing empirical studies, the methodological approach to impact assessment studies applied to quality services is systematized and a guideline proposed.

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