Introduction to Standards and Standardization

  • Henk J. de Vries


National standardization organizations all subscribe to the official definition of standardization, laid down in ISO/IEC Guide 2 (ISO/IEC, 1991): standardization is the
activity of establishing, with regard to actual or potential problems, provisions for common and repeated use, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context. Notes:
  1. 1

    In particular, this activity consists of the processes offormulating, issuing and implementing standards.

  2. 2

    Important benefits of standardization are improvement of the suitability of products, processes and services for their intended purposes, prevention of barriers to trade and facilitation of technological co-operation.



Interested Party Network Externality Standardization Organization American Petroleum Institute Electronic Data Interchange 
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  1. 1.
    Nevertheless, standardization literature does not devote much attention to company standardization. Recent exceptions are Adolphi (1997) and Nakamura (1993).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Nevertheless, standardization literature does not devote much attention to company standardization. Recent exceptions are Adolphi (1997) and Nakamura (1993).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Berg (1988), Brown (1993), Compton (1993), and Foray (1994) discuss this choice.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    This can be concluded from the definition of standardization.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Source: Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut & Nederlands Elektrotechnisch Comité (1987).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See elucidation in Section 5.7.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The contents of the Dutch standard NEN 3516 Ontwerpen van formulieren [Designing forms] (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1988b) has, to a large extent, been determined by one person. He was a recognized expert, author of several books (among others, Steenwijk, 1992 & 1994), and used to give courses based on NEN 3516 and adjacent standards. These standards are largely influenced by his insights, because of his participation in the committees that drafted and accepted the standards, and because of participation of former scholars in the same committees (source: personal observations as the secretary of these committees and participant in one of the courses).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1988a. See elucidation in Subsection 6.5.1.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Listings of NSOs can be found in IEC (1999), ISO (1998f) and Toth (1997)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    This applies to the Association of Dutch Catering Organizations (see Section 11.4).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Toth also provides an overview of GSOs in the USA.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    This applies to the MAP, TOP, SQL, and OSF consortia. MAP = Manufacturing Automation Protocol; TOP = Technical and Office Protocol; SQL = Standard Query Language; OSF = Open Software Foundation. Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Source: Simons & De Vries, 1997, p. 22.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    According to Compton (1993, p. 866), a consortium is a broad grouping of different companies pursuing a common objective — usually attempting to create a common approach or de facto standard in a particular technology field. Consortia are oftten formed in order to compete against a well-established competitor or group that threatens to dominate that technology with its own de facto standard. Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sources for this section: EDIFORUM (1998), Van den Broek (1998), additional information from websites of organizations mentioned, and personal communications of Mr. V.C. van den Broek (EDIFORUM) and Mr. J.A. Dijkstra (NNI).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    CEFIC = Conseil Européen de l’Industrie Chimique [European Chemical Industry Council].Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    EAN = International Article Numbering Association. Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    ODETTE = Organization for Data Exchange by Teletransmission in Europe. Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    SWIFT = Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Meeus et al. (1996, pp. i, 15–18) had telephone interviews with 781 Dutch SMEs that all had a stake in technical standards (others were excluded). 57% in one way or another were involved in standards development (at that moment or no more than 5 years before), via branch organizations or other networks (39%), or by direct involvement (18%), the latter by participating themselves (10%) or by giving comments.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Most of the data in this subsection come from Simons & De Vries (1997).Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    In a book about user needs in information technology standards, Evans, Meek, and Walker (1993, pp. 3–4) make a distinction between: end users/terminal operators using the computer as a tool in their job, system administrators who maintain the integrity of the IT environment, users who establish and maintain the IT environment, and developers who develop a solution to a problem, for instance, by making software or by integrating systems. A final category is formed by non-human users: information processing systems. All use standards, but will, in general, have different requirements. All these categories are included in the above user concept.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    MAP = Manufacturing Automation Protocol - a set of standards defining rules for electronic communication in a manufacturinu environmentGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Users interviewed by Jakobs (1997, p. 8) mentioned that the majority of functional shortcomings, flaws, and problems stemmed from poor implementations ofstanard, rather than fro„ Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    In a British investigation, of which a summary is given by Healy & Pope (1996, Appendix B) most individual consumers say they know about standardization. It can be questioned, however, whether the study provided too much information in the questions. In any case, the project only provided consumers’ opinions concerning the content of standards, not on standards or standardization as such. One of the conclusions is that consumers do not have any clear idea as to how standards are prepared and who prepares them (Healy & Pope, 1996, p. 18). Half a century ago, Coles (1949, pp. 212–214) suggested canying out research to determine consumer needs in order to take these into account when developing standards.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    A point of discussion is whether or not consumer issues in standardization should be a governmental responsibility (Wiest, 1994).Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Van Weperen (1993) offers an example of a thorough view of safety standards from a consumer organization’s point of view.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    International association of independent national consumer organizations.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    An example of real consumer influence is described by Richter (1994) in a case about standards for playground equipment for children.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Three of these are mentioned by Repussard (1995).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Probably the best example of this is Japan. The close connection between Japanese R&D policy and standardization is described by McIntyre (Ed., 1997). Examples at the European level are the EUREKA project (EUREKA Secretariat, 1988) and the Star project (Buntzlv. 1996).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    In the European New Approach, standards are developed that are related to European Directives. These Directives set essential requirements on, for instance, safety, health, or environment that are formulated globally. Linked to these directives, European standards are developed in which detailed requirements and/or test methods are laid down. A company that meets the relevant standards is assumed to meet the general requirements set in the Directives. Thus, implementing the standards is an efficient way to meet the legal requirements. The company, however, is allowed to meet these requirements in another way. Though principally voluntary, in practice, these standards are almost obligatory. Conformity to requirements in the Directives is indicated by means of the CE mark (CE = Conformité Européenne) (Grützner, 1994; Huigen, Inklaar & Paterson, 1996).Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    In a historical study on the interaction between scientific, economic, and political factors in the elaboration of control on fertilizer in France and Germany 1850–1914, Jas (1996) concludes scientists had a decisive influence. Science was presented as being morally superior to the voice of industry (ibid., p. 37). Scientists used standardization to promote their activities and their scientific status (ibid., p. 36). She concludes that standards assure the presence of science, namely its vocabulary, its techniques, its institutions, and its people (ibid., p. 38).Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Source: own experience.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Examples of pollution due to standards: Grünbauer (1996, pp. 3–4) and the case described in Subsection 5.3.4. In order to avoid this, the IEC and ISO issued guides for the inclusion of environmental aspects in product standards (IEC, 1995b; ISO, 1997a).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henk J. de Vries
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus University RotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Nederlands Normalisatie InstituutDelftThe Netherlands

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