An NSO’s core services relate to developing standards. Often, distributing standards is a second area of services, and providing information concerning standards sometimes a third. Moreover, in practice, some NSOs add other service areas, such as, testing and certification. This chapter examines these services, but not exhaustively. They are discussed only in as far as they are related to standards development. Therefore, the questions to be addressed are:
  • Can an organization involved in standards development also be “good” at these other activities?

  • Do these activities reinforce each other and/or standards development or is there any danger that they interfere with each other or the process of standards development?


Information Service Core Competence Business Unit Standardization Service Standard Development 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    For example, NSOs offer platform services for parties to come to an agreement on standards. Another possible service would be that NSO officers could participate in standardization committees on behalf of companies. This second service, however, would affect the NSO’s independent position necessary for the first service.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Source: Internal NNI discussion paper (Blijham, 1996).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    In NNI practice, the selling department, when necessary, contacts technical officers who, subsequently, can ask members of their committees. At this point, NNI’s selling department can offer better service than a mail-order company could.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The non-profit character of some NSOs is under pressure, especially if they have a lot of commercial activities. BSI, for instance, earns most of its income in testing and certification and carries out these activities in a competitive market, all over the world.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Without money from standards selling the daily rate for NNI’s standardization consultants would have been ca. USD 200 more.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    For example, the American National Standards Network (Mercer, 1995;, Australian standards publishing via the Internet (Pontoni, 1998b).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    This article has been chosen because it offers an overview of aspects related to standards in electronic form from a company’s point of view.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See Section 5.8.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    PDF = Portable Document Format.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    HTML = Hyper-Text Markup Language.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    The need for withdrawn standards is related to their installed base — see Subsection 4.4.2.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Though the intellectual effort mainly comes from the participants in standardization, FSOs operate under the condition that they possess property rights concerning standards. Some governmental NSOs, however, have not copyrighted their standards (Toth, 1994, p. 47).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    This may be compared with the reference to property rights in standards, see Subsection 9.3.8.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See the listing in Annex 1. NSOs that earn 50% or more from selling publications include the Netherlands and the Philippines (50%), Norway (64%), and Germany (67%).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Standards Australia, for instance, expects to deliver its products and services other regions (Lions, 1998). The IEC (1998d) decided to give its members and IEC Central Office the ability to sell electronic versions of IEC standards over the World Wide Web.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    This expectation deviates from Toth’s conclusion (1994, p. 21) who says that standards in electronic form will be sold to a considerably larger market beyond the traditional purchasers of standards who, according to him, in many ways were intermediaries. He did not address SMEs.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    More arguments against providing standards free of charge are offered by CEN (1998, p. 672).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    ASTM = American Society for Testing and Materials. ASTM develops voluntary consensus-based standards.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Other NSOs have not been studied at this point.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    An example of this is the argument for using French in international standardization by the general director of AFNOR (Durand, 1998).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    If Beuth were an independent publisher, DIN’s reputation of impartiality would be damaged too, because of preference for one publishing company, though many others exist.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    The reasons for this are (Toth, 1994, p. 27): 1) titles are inadequate; 2) there is no discipline in utilizing terms; 3) designations (numbering) are inconsistent among standards developers, particularly in identifying revised standards; 4) few standards have descriptive abstracts. Toth (p. 33) suggests: 1) indexes with consistent, fully descriptive titles and abstracts; 2) on-line or automated dial-up or fax service to verify validity of existing standards, and determine the stage of standards under development; 3) delivery of draft and approved standards in electronic formats via on-line and networks, CD-ROM, or other media such as magnetic tape, with features that provide easy access and linkage to referenced documents, enable interoperability, and accommodate tables and graphics.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    The FSO check on conflicts between standards does not function sufficiently (see Subsections 3.2.2 and 5.2.2).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    In a Dutch research project among companies in the metal and electrotechnical industry, it appeared that 50% of them did not succeed in tracing the relevant standards. The bigger the company, the better their performance. As small and medium-size companies were under-represented in the interviews, it may be assumed that more than 50% of the companies are not able to trace relevant standards. Many were not aware that relevant — sometimes even obligatory — standards were missing. On the other hand, some of the companies that, as far as the researchers could judge, had a complete standards collection were afraid of having missed some essential standards (Biesheuvel, Verkuyl & De Vries, 1993, pp. 36–37).Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    This was concluded in two research projects, both based on telephone interviews with about 1000 companies (De la Fuente & De Vries, 1995, pp. 28–29, 48; Meeus et al., 1996, pp. 35–42). In the first project, sources of information mentioned were professional magazines (40%), NNI (37%), branch organizations (36%), suppliers or customers (27%), certification and testing bodies (27%), Chambers of Commerce (24%), commercial organizations (9%), Euro Info Centres (3%), and others (10%) (these percentages were not published in the report). In the second project, the percentages found were: professional magazines: 77%, branch organizations: 75%, NNI update service: 34%, NNI catalogue: 26% (these two may overlap, so the percentages should not be added), Staatscourant (official journal of the Dutch government, in which announcements of new standards are published): 17%. Explanations for differences in percentages include: a) the populations differ slightly; b) in the first project companies that said they did not use standards were included, whereas they were excluded in the second project; c) in the first project general managers were interviewed, the report of the second project does not mention who answered the questions; d) both projects used preformulated answers. The respondents could say whether or not these applied. The lists of possible answers were different, and the second project did not have a remaining group.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Other reasons are listed in Subsection 6.4.1.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    For instance, in NNI’s book on how to implement the ISO 14000 standards, 43 pages were needed to clarify ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 (Heida et al., 1997).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Source: personal experience in developing and marketing NNI courses.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    NNI experience shows this is very effective: response rates of more than 10% are possible, which, in the Dutch courses market, is extremely high.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    NNI uses direct mailings to announce its courses. Direct mail is expensive: circa USD 1,- per leaflet sent. This method can be used because of the margins on courses and appears to be effective, with response rates between 1% and 20%. For announcements of standards it is usually too expensive. Press releases which cost hardly anything are the most common way to announce these. Thanks to announcements of courses, the standards themselves are promoted.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    It is NNI’s policy that NNI officers, where possible, teach NNI courses, with teachers from professional practice.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    NNI was accused of this by an employers organization, who said they should leave this activity to private companies and employers organizations.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    There was a more direct relation between metrology and NSO information services in the past, due to the major operation of the introduction of the Système International d’unités [SI — the International System for Units]. NSOs were active in campaigns to introduce SI. NNI, for instance, was involved in an SI television course (Smits, 1995, p. 4). Anglo Saxon countries and other countries influenced by them still face problems related to the transition to metric and other SI standards. A recent book addressing this topic is Metric Standards for Worldwide Manufacturing (Kverneland, 1996).Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    People involved in metrology primarily need knowledge and skills in the field of measurement. These rarely overlap with knowledge and skills necessary for standardization services. Markets also differ. Though metrology is based on standards, there are no direct advantages to including metrology in NSO services except that they are both part of the infrastructure necessary for industry. In developing economies, where institutions providing the infrastructure are small, there may be an advantage in combining them, in order to have one service desk for industry and to share office facilities. If they are both governmental agencies, it is self-evident that they are not too far from each other within the administration.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    For instance, on occupational heath and safety management — see ISO Bulletin (1996c).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Such a separation is a requirement laid down in ISO/IEC Guide 62 (ISO/IEC, 1996c, clause 2.1.2.o). In the Netherlands, this requirement is not met in practice (Hoogers & De Vries, 1998a).Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    An example can be found in the ISO’s Development Manual on conformity assessment (ISO, 1998). The British Standards Institution (BSI) includes BSI Standards and BSI Quality Assurance. These are formally separated. Nevertheless, the latter got the floor in the ISO series of booklets for developing countries to present a one-sided view on these matters, ignoring industry preferences for selfdeclarations of conformity over third-party assessment (Becker, 1997, p. 13; ICSCA, 1997, Resolution 15; Simons, 1990, p. 36), and suggesting a difference between certification bodies set up by NSOs and other certification bodies (Reed, 1998, p. 37).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    The relative lead of AFNOR in national standards for services might be explained by such a relation with certification (see Section 11.8).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Certificates should ensure that the criteria established in the standards are met. The Dutch practice of management systems certification is dubious (Drouven, 1994; Hoogers & De Vries, 1998b; Van Schooten & Ebbinge, 1998; Specifiek, 1997). Individual companies are not in the position to change this situation. The employers organizations could take the initiative, but they also have members that prefer the present situation with cheap certificates (better certification would make certificates more expensive). Certification bodies have a long-term common stake in trustworthy certificates, but short-term individual stakes in getting new customers in a market of fierce competition prevail, so they economize on the costs of inspection at the expense of its quality. Stricter accreditation might cause several certification bodies to terminate their activities, which would reduce the income of accreditation bodies; so they will not take the initiative either. The national government advocates a liberal market ideology and, therefore, prefers to leave these matters to the market. Thus, nobody is taking moves (De Vries, 1998a, p. 22).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    This conflicts with the ISO/IEC Technical Report 17010 ‘General requirements for bodies providing accreditation of inspection bodies’ (ISO/IEC, 1998a, clause 4.2.1).Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    The International Federation of Standards Users (IFAN, see Section 3.7) requires NSO recognition for national standards users organizations in order to be allowed to be IFAN members (IFAN, 1998a, clause 3.1.1).Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    The 50 members of NKN, the Dutch standards users organizations, account for more than 10% of NNI’s turnover (Source: investigation of NKN among its members).Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    The latter gives NSOs options for service packages for regular customers. Some of them do this in the form of memberships. Standards Australia offers its 17,000 members 20% discount on the price of standards, and a subscription on its monthly magazine. ON (Austria) offers the same, plus a discount on courses and ON happenings. DIN offers a 15% discount on its standards, catalogue, and journal, and a license for a special fee to make copies of DIN standards for in-house purposes and to use them in electronic form in internal networks (Sources: NSO Websites).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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