Beyond Consortia, Beyond Standardization? Redefining the Consortium Problem

Beyond Consortia, Beyond Standardization? Redefining the Consortium Problem

Tineke M. Egyedi (Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-938-0.ch005
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This chapter analyzes the rhetoric that surrounds the problem of consortia, that is, the supposed lack of democratic procedures. The social shaping of the standardization approach is applied. Two cases are used to illustrate what is at stake in consortium standardization, namely, the standardization of Java in ECMA, and XML in W3C. The findings show inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the way the consortium problem is defined: The dominant rhetoric underestimates the openness of most industry consortia and overestimates the practical implications of formal democratic procedures. This unbalanced portrayal and sustained ambiguity about what is meant by democracy are part of the meaning of negotiation at work in the actor network. Implicitly, the European network still predominantly defines standardization as an instrument of regulatory governance. This marginalizes the role of consortia. The chapter offers several suggestions to redefine the consortium problem.

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