Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 53–67 | Cite as

Realizing the vision for web services: Strategies for dealing with imperfect standards

  • Sanjay Gosain


Organizations considering the adoption of the web services framework for their Information Technology (IT) applications are confronted with a period of technological ferment, as standards for supporting non-trivial business process functionality are not yet in place. Evolving standardization poses challenges in the form of inter-temporal dependencies as organizations’ conformance to the standards that emerge in the future is contingent on their current design choices that need to be made ex-ante without complete information of how standards will evolve. At the same time, there are significant early-mover benefits to be gained by executing an IT strategy using web services as a cornerstone. This paper draws upon coordination theory to develop a conceptual framework outlining three approaches for organizations to deal with changing standardization regimes: (a) The dependencies across components, conforming to different standardization regimes, are continually bridged through intermediary services (e.g., using a protocol adapter that translates to an unanticipated emergent standard), (b) The dependencies across components are minimized through loose coupling so that standardization regime changes for any component have a minimal impact on other components (e.g., encapsulating the functionality susceptible to design change into a module with abstract interfaces), and (c) The impacted components are rapidly reconfigurable as and when standardization regime changes (e.g., by building in “extension” features into applications). The risk for organizations investing in web services can be further managed by mechanisms such as organization’s attention to signals from the periphery, undertaking low-risk experiments to learn in different areas, and bricolage-like improvisations of their legacy components at hand.


Imperfect standards Web services Coordination theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Capital Group CompaniesBreaUSA

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