In industrialized countries, National Standardization Organizations (NSOs) were founded in the early decades of the 20th Century by organizations of engineers, and in some countries with organizations of industrialists.1 These NSOs had to develop national standards, to join efforts and avoid duplication of work by different industries that each made company or sectoral standards to solve the same matching problems.2 International and regional standardization started later, after the second World War.3 In electrotechnical and telecommunications standardization, however, there was an international dimension from the outset; international standardization organizations were established in 1865 (ITU,4 telecommunications) and 1906 (IEC, electrotechnology).


National Standard Committee Member Interested Party Technical Committee Work Item 
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  1. 1.
    1901: United Kingdom; 1916: the Netherlands; 1917: Germany, France; 1918: United States; 1919: Belgium, Canada, Switzerland; 1920: Austria; 1921: Japan, Italy, Hungary; 1922: Australia, Czechoslovakia, Sweden; 1923: Norway; 1924: Finland, Poland; 1925: Soviet Union; 1926: Denmark; 1928: Romania; 1929: Portugal (Toth (Ed.), 1997).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Information on this topic can be found, for example, in Cargill (1998, Chapter 2), Cochey (1996), De Geus (1991), and Wölker (1991 and 1992).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    A predecessor of ISO was started in 1926: the International Federation of National Standardization Associations (ISA). NSOs met in ISA to exchange and co-ordinate information on national standards.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    ITU = International Telecommunications Union, at that time International Telegraph Union. Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Most of the data in this subsection came from Websites of NSOs in Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA. These were completed with literature about NSOs in Austria (Österreichisches Normungsinstitut, 1988), Canada (ASTM Standardization News, 1997b; Hesser & Kleinemeyer, 1994), Germany (DIN Deutsches Institut fiür Normung, 1986), Japan (Krislov, 1979, pp. 161–180; Stern, 1997; Tanabe, 1997), the Netherlands (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1997a), Thailand (Hesser & Kleinemeyer, 1994), Sweden (Karlsson, 1997), Trinidad (Hutchinson, 1998), United Kingdom (BSI, 1997), and the USA (Toth, 1996).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    DIN = Deutsches Institut für Normung [German Standardization Institute].Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    In the Netherlands, for example, the committee structures are separated, but the supporting offices are fully integrated; at the national level the bureau of the Dutch Electrotechnical Commission functions as NNI’s electrotechnical department.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    This description is mainly based on a Dutch publication (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1997a, pp. 13–14), with additions from British Standard 0–2 (BSI, 1997b, pp. 16–25). Terms are taken from BS 0–2; other NSOs may use different terms. Procedures for steps 1–8 may slightly differ per NSO but are similar to NNI and BSI procedures. Steps 9 and 10 are up to standards users, though NSO procedures require evaluation of standards after a certain period.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    A WG exists only for the time necessary to draft one or more standards. When the standards are ready, the WG is discontinued. An SC is a more permanent committee, responsible for a field of activities. This, however, does not exclude them from being disbanded.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    In general, the committee one step higher in the hierarchy has to agree on this.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    They are forced to do this by European Directive 83/189/EEC (European Communities, 1983) as amended by Directives 88/182/EEC (ibid., 1988) and 94/10/EEC (Ibid., 1994).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    The World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade has been signed by countries that, together, represent more than 95 % of world trade. Its annexes include the Code of Good Practice for the Preparation, Adoption and Application of Standards. NSOs were invited to accept this Code. NSOs that notified the ISO/IEC Information Centre that they accepted this Code, have to publish their work program at least once every six months and transmit it to the ISO/IEC Information Centre. This facilitates information exchange, which can stimulate international co-operation and avoid duplication of work carried out in different countries (IEC, 1996b; Schwamm, 1997).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    In Germany and the United Kingdom, this is recommended practice (BSI, 1997b, p. 16, Subsections 8.5.1 and 8.6.8; DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung, 1986, p. 2, Subsection 2.2.1).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Some NSOs laid down these rules in national “standards for standards.” Examples include the American national standard SES 1 (SES, 1995), British standard BS 0–3 (BSI, 1997c), the French standard X 00–001 (AFNOR, 1993), and the German standard DIN 820–2 (DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung, 1996). Others have an internal publication that did not follow the route of an official standard (for example, Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1993).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    In Malaysia this is followed by final approval by the Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment (SIRIM Berhad, 1998).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    ISO, CEN and CENELEC also review standards once every five year. The IEC introduced a more systematic review, with a pre-recorded cycle between two and twelve years. All standards are related to TCs and SCs; Maintenance Teams carry out revision activities (Möhr, 1998; Raeburn, 1998d).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    NNI has no clear policy on this topic. In the Building and Civil Engineering Section, Technical Officers consult some stakeholders and, based on their findings, the Sector Board decides to maintain or withdraw the standard (NNI-Bouw, 1996, pp. 11–12). The ICT Section, however, maintains obsolete standards. An example is the standard NEN 2296 Handwriting for Elementary Schools — Letters and Figures (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1958a). In 1985, NNI was informed that this standard was outdated. NNI tried to form a committee for revision. However, there was not enough support in the market. Twelve years later, the standard is still in NNI’s catalogue (source: personal observation in handling this topic). Some claim that in spite of the 5-year reviews, 25 to 30 percent of US standards refer to and document obsolete technology (Toth (Ed.), 1997, p.4).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    DIN = Deutsche Industrie-Norm [German standard].Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    BS = British Standard; EN = Europäische Norm [European Standard].Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    So national standards include national implementations of international and regional standards.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Not to be confused with prENs: Draft European Standards. See for ENVs: CEN Central Secretariat, 1998c. 22 If national standards are maintained, there is a danger that the ENV is insufficiently tested in practice.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    If national standards are maintained, there is a danger that the ENV is insufficiently tested in practice.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    See: CEN Central Secretariat, 1998a.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    A comparable situation is CENELEC’s European Specifications (ESs) (CENELEC, 1998, p.8) and IEC’s Industry Technical Agreements (ITAs). IEC introduced ITAs in response to the market need for fast moving technologies. The time needed for development of ITAs will be months instead of years. ITAs are minimum technical specifications. Workshops comprising experts nominated by the industrial and user parties wishing to participate will process and decide on them. ITAs will only progress to international standards or technical reports through the normal processes if a market demand is foreseen (IEC Bulletin, 1997a). IEC’s first ITA deals with multimedia platforms. It was developed by the Open Platform Initiative for Multimedia Access (OPIMA) (IEC Bulletin, 1998a).Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    An example of PASs at the international level are standards developed by X/Open. X/Open markets products and services world-wide to computer system buyers, system suppliers, software developers, and standards organizations. By integrating prioritized requirements and expertise from each of the groups, X/Open evolves and manages a comprehensive set of publicly available open system specifications, which define the common applications environment. X/Open also operates a test and verification procedure for products developed in line with its specifications, and awards its brand name as the mark of compliance. Since 1996, X/Open is recognized by the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC 1) for standardization in the field of information technology as a PAS submitter (IEC, 1996a). In extraordinary cases the same can also apply to company standards: at the international level, Sun Microsystems’ Java specifications were the first example. ISO/IEC JTC 1 is leading in the area of PASs; their criteria can be found in ISO/IEC (1995) and ISO/IEC (1998b). Characteristics of PASs differ per FSO, which causes confusion (Wende, 1998, p. 685).Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Standardization committee members come from different organizations. Their interests differ but concern the same topics. Therefore, participation can be very attractive as a source of information and to arrange all kinds of things. Suppliers and potential buyers, for instance, can meet in an informal setting. NSOs seldom mention this “deliverable,” but for some committee members it is the main reason for participation.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    This listing is based on a manual for a course for NNI’s standardization consultants (De Vries, 1997b).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Cited from the website of ON, the Austrian NSO ( The principles mentioned apply to all NSOs.
  29. 29.
    Standards Australia achieves transparency by: — advising of, and calling for, comment on the instigation of new projects; — advising of, and calling for, expressions of interest in the formation of new and substantially reconstituted TCs; — submitting all draft standards for public review. Standards are announced in the NSO’s monthly and the press and limited numbers of the draft standards are distributed to interested parties. Justified objections have to be taken into account by the related technical committees; — committee members circulate drafts at various stages to their stakeholder groups (Walsh, 1997, p. 15). CEN (1998b, p. 666) also includes possibilities for non-participants to get information on standardization; they confuse transparency with visibility. Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    For example, Dutch standards that set verification methods for legislative requirements for buildings (NNI-Bouw, 1997).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    For example, the soft Dutch soil makes railway inclines relatively expensive. Therefore, in standards that specify the height of bridges and viaducts, this height is kept as low as possible (De Vries, 1996a, p. 1 1).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    For example, the Dutch standard on address formats (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1991 b); the inability to get an international or European standard for plugs and sockets accepted and applied (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1997b, p. 6).Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    For example, the Dutch standard specifying the colours of the national flag (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1958b). Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    For example, Belgium and the Netherlands have a joint standard on the correct usage of Dutch in business and technology (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut & Belgisch Instituut voor Normalisatie, 1998).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    For example, Australian initiatives for standards on consumer protection in the global marketplace (ISO Central Secretariat, 1998); Dutch standards for measuring pollution (Nederlands Normalisatieinstituut, Cluster Milieu, 1996; ibid. 1997).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Swann and Temple (1995) and Link and Tassey (1987, p. 234) conclude that original national standards are more effective than internationally equivalent standards in promoting export. However, as stated in Subsection 3.2.2, NSOs that signed the WTO’s Code of Good Practice for the Preparation, Adoption and Application of Standards have to provide information available to other NSOs on their intention to write a new standard. This enables others to start standardization on that topic at the international level. CENELEC’s Vilarnoura procedure even guarantees a shift in the work item to the European or the international level if four or more other (European) NSOs are interested and willing to participate (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1997a, p. 21). The French standard on “16K barcodes” was developed to influence a European standard (CEN, 1998c) in order to protect a French installed base (Source: personal communication of Mr. J.A. Dijkstra, NNI). Other data: Bolivia, Ecuador, Israel, Peru: 10%; Poland: 17%; Jordan, Russian Federation, Singapore, Uruguay: 20%; South Africa: 22%; France: 26%; Kyrgyztan: 30%; Hungary: 36%; Finland, Philippines: 40%; Sweden, Ukraine: 60%; Mauritius: 70%; Turkey: 85% (Toth (Ed.), 1997). About 90% of the CENELEC standards are identical to, or closely based on, IEC standards (IEC Bulletin, 1998). In CEN, approximately 60% of the standards are identical with those of ISO (ICSCA, 1997). PASC (Pacific Area Standards Congress) depends solely upon ISO/IEC standards, the standards development efforts of other regions, such as MERCOSUR and COPANT (both in Latin America), are patterned after ISO/IEC documents (ICSCA, 1997).Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Other data: Bolivia, Ecuador, Israel, Peru: 10%; Poland: 17%; Jordan, Russian Federation, Singapore, Uruguay: 20%; South Africa: 22%; France: 26%; Kyrgyztan: 30%; Hungary: 36%; Finland, Philippines: 40%; Sweden, Ukraine: 60%; Mauritius: 70%; Turkey: 85% (Toth (Ed.), 1997). About 90% of the CENELEC standards are identical to, or closely based on, IEC standards (IEC Bulletin, 1998). In CEN, approximately 60% of the standards are identical with those of ISO (ICSCA, 1997). PASC (Pacific Area Standards Congress) depends solely upon ISO/IEC standards, the standards development efforts of other regions, such as MERCOSUR and COPANT (both in Latin America), are patterned after ISO/IEC documents (ICSCA, 1997).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Source: Scholar
  39. 39.
    Other reasons include (ASTMStandardization News, 1997a, pp. 22–23): — by working together within the NSO community, SDOs provide a system for self regulation; — for companies, government, and SDOs there is one policy forum for general standardization issues.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Members of international and regional Working Groups do not participate on behalf of their NSO, though NSOs may nominate them. NSOs may (but seldom do) nominate experts from other countries. International organizations with which ISO/IEC have a liaison may also nominate participants. WG members are primarily chosen because of their expertise.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    (4 x number of TC secretariats + 2 x number of SC secretariats + 1 x number of WG secretariats) / (GDP in billions USD x 1.1 1); the coefficient of weight was added in order to get the outcome 100 for “number 1,” Sweden. All data come from Toth (Ed., 1997).Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    As stated in Subsection 3.2.3, national standards include national implementations of international and regional standards.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    NSOs are not obliged to implement ISO/IEC standards in their national standards collection. ISO member bodies are normally the primary ISO sales agents in their countries (ISO, 1998a, p. 5). IEC standards can also be bought from national members, from IEC Customer Service Centre in Geneva, and from some IEC approved sales outlets (IEC, 1998a, pp. 13–17).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Standards Australia is the first NSO that sells all their standards via the Internet (Pontoni, 1998; CEN members prepare Internet selling in the INES (Internet Network for European Standardization) project, Work Package 4 Standards Delivery (AFNOR, 1998; All IEC standards published as of September 1996 are available at the IEC Central Office in electronic format, and the IEC develops Web purchase (IEC, 1998f). Up-to-the-minute reports can be found on the NSO websites. These can be reached via and An example of DIN Internet applications is offered by Walser (1998).
  45. 45.
    In general, FSOs have copyrights on their standards. Many governmental NSOs’ standards, however, are not copyrighted (Toth, 1994, p. 47). Most FSOs do not seek out or prosecute copyright violators (ibid., p. 48). Some NSOs do not give commercial firms permission to (re)sell national standards in the NSO’s motherland. However, an NSO in country A cannot prevent these firms from (re)selling standards from country B in country A, and from country A in country B.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    These catalogues differ very much in their presentations: many NSOs do not apply the international standard that sets up rules with regard to these matters: ISO 7220. This hinders catalogue users (IFAN, 1997d, Item 12.2; ISO, 1996a).Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    ISO members agreed on common data elements to be used in their electronic databases (laid down in the ISONET Manual (ISO, 1998e; ISONET is the ISO Information Network: the world-wide network of national standards information centres)). In spite of this, there are differences per country, which hinders exchange of data on standards between databases (IFAN, 1997d, Item 12.3).Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Both handbooks and compendia contain a collection of full-text standards. The only difference concerns their size: in handbooks the standard sizes are reduced, in compendia they are reproduced full-size (ISO, 1998a, p. 29).Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    For example, ANSI’s Standards Tracking and Automated Reporting (STAR) Service (ANSI, 1998b) and NNI’s Update Service (Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut, 1998c, p. 20). For many organizations, the importance of systematic standards management has increased due to the introduction of ISO 9000 quality management. ISO 9001 states: The supplier shall establish and maintain documented procedures to control all documents and data that relate to the requirements of this International Standard including, to the extent applicable, documents of external origin such as standards and customer drawings (ISO, 1994c, clause 4.5.1).Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    For example, ANSI’s Research Services (ANSI, 1998a) and BSI’s Technical Help to Exporters (BSI, 1997d). The NSOs in Australia, Israel and New Zealand also offer such service (ISO, 1997b).Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Information in this Subsection is taken from ISO (1994a, p. 28) and Toth (Ed.) (1997). Metrology includes all problems of a theoretical and practical nature related to measuring instruments, methods and execution of measurements and estimation of their characteristics, and with units of measurement. That part of metrology related to legal requirements is called legal metrology. It deals with the establishment, reproduction, conservation and dissemination of units, and with the examination and stamping of measuring instruments (verification) (ISO, 1987c, p. 67).Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    In the other countries, in general, this activity is partly left to industry, to calibrate its own instruments, but additionally, for the sake of consumer protection, it is done by a governmental agency outside the NSO.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Information in this Subsection is taken from websites and from Toth (Ed.) (1997).Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Testing is the action of carrying out one or more tests. A test is a technical operation that consists of the determination of one or more characteristics of a given product, process or service according to a specified procedure (ISO/IEC, 1996b, Clauses 13.1.1 and 13.1).Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Certification is the procedure by which a third party gives written assurance that a product, process or service conforms to specified requirements (ISO/IEC, 1996b, Clause 15.1.2). Information on certification can be found in Certification and related activities (ISO/IEC, 1992a).Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    A thorough discussion of labels is provided by Coles (1949).Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Argentina: 55%; United Kingdom: 62%; Spain: 63%; Venezuela: 68%; South Africa: 74%; Bolivia: 75%; Turkey: 80%; India: 89%.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Information in this Subsection comes from ISO (1994a, p. 28–29) and Toth (Ed.) (1997).Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Accreditation is the procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks (ISO/IEC, 1996b, Clause 12.11).Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    This applies, for instance, to projects related to the European STAR system: R&D support for standardization (Buntzly, 1996).Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Data in this subsection come from IFAN (1997a, 1997b and 1997d).Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    AFNOR, BSI and DIN especially, are very active in this area. Such assistance may be also in favour of their national industries. If the country that receives help would adopt a subset of their national standards, it is easier for these industries to export. Moreover, informal contacts may pave the way for export (source: Mr. R.T. Huigen, standardization consultant, NNI, active in consulting other NSOs; this claim has not been examined further).Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    BSI, for instance, carries out systematic stakeholder research to measure performance improvements (BSI, 1996) and did a benchmarking study to compare BSI with other NSOs (Tidmarsh, 1995). An overview on DIN’s efficiency improvements is provided by Reihlen (1997). The Standards Council of Canada published a strategic plan for improvements (SCC, 1998). Standards Australia re-engineers the standards preparation process (Walsh, 1997).Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    ISO (1998d); Rajchel (1997).Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    IEC (1996b); Liess & Salffner (1998).Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    CEN (1995 & 1998a); Enjeux (1996b).Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    The method used for these activities is described in Section 13.9.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    See, for instance, the interim manager’s view (Straatman, 1994) and the foundation president’s view (Tot, 1996).Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    In more than 50% of over 70 NSOs investigated by Toth (1997), there is a national body which coordinates or oversees activities in the areas of metrology, standardization, testing and quality. Nearly all of these bodies are governmental agencies. This applies more to developing countries than to industrialized countries.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    The largest collections of national standards include the USA (93,000 standards), Germany (37,000), Russia (22,000), Ukraine (21,000), France (19,500), Byelorussia (19,000), Japan (18,000), China (17,000), India (16,500), Poland (15,400), Italy (15,000), United Kingdom (13,700), Bulgaria (13,000), Taiwan (13,000), Turkey (12,600), Sweden (12,100), Spain (11,900), and Indonesia (10,000) (Toth, 1997, p. 4). Note: the number of standards is of relative importance: an average German standard, for instance, is shorter than a British one: the BSI sometimes handles topics in one big standard for which DIN uses several smaller standards.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    See the listing of regional FSOs in Subsection 2.2.3. Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    This also applies to service sectors, as was concluded in the Dutch study described in Chapter 11.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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