Perceived Relation between ICT Standards' Sources and their Success in the Market

Perceived Relation between ICT Standards' Sources and their Success in the Market

Kai Jakobs (RWTH Aachen University, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-320-3.ch006
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This chapter briefly outlines a study that looked at potential links between ICT / e-business standards’ origins and their subsequent success in the market (or lack thereof). The outcome of the study suggests that companies who need to either implement or set standards do not distinguish between ‘formal’ standards setting bodies (SSBs) and consortia. Rather, specifics of the individual bodies are of interets, including, among others, their processes, IPR rules, and membership.
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2 Some Background

According to [Cash et al., 2002], “Legitimacy refers to whether an actor perceives the process in a system as unbiased and meeting standards of political and procedural fairness.” Along similar lines, [Orlikowski & Robey, 1991] note that “...human action is guided by cultural notions of legitimacy, ...”. Obviously, (perceived) ‘legitimacy’ also plays a role in the selection of an SSB, or of one of its products.

For SSBs, this implies that they need to establish an adequate level of legitimacy to become (or remain) relevant. At least for formal SDOs, this is typically based on government endorsement which, in turn, requires that a “... voluntary consensus standards body is defined by the following attributes: (i) Openness; (ii) Balance of interest; (iii) Due process; (vi) An appeals process.; (v) Consensus, ...” (Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119; quoted in [Bukowski, 2003]).

Somewhat strangely, the ‘old’ international SDOs, i.e., ISO and IEC2, did not enjoy any governmental endorsement when they were founded3. Even today, an ‘authoritative’ source of their legitimacy (i.e., why they are referred to as ‘formal’) seems to be missing4. A widely held belief is that this status was ‘earned’ basically by tradition – i.e., by having done beneficial standardisation work over decades5. People now seem to trust these institutions (which may be to a lesser degree the case in the ICT sector, which is comparably young and where many SDOs were not really fully fit for the job at hand).

Typically, consortia do not enjoy the benefit of government endorsement. Thus, they need to explore other routes towards legitimacy. Van Wegberg notes that popular means to establish an SSB’s legitimacy include (among others; see [van Wegberg, 1999]).

  • Participation of key players.

  • A track record in a certain field.

  • IPR assets.

  • Co-operation with other SSBs.

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