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Formal standards-setting for global telecommunications and information services. Towards an institutional regime transformation?


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  • David, Paul A
  • Shurmer, Mark


This paper reviews the nature and economic significance of the activities carried on by standards development organizations (SDOs), focusing in particular upon the telecommunications and information technology standards-setting work of the government-created public and quasi-public institutions, and the international treaty organizations that constitute the formal standards sector. It documents the current sources of tension within this regime and appraises various proposals for organizational reforms. There are especially pressing needs for adaptations of the inherited institutional mechanisms for technical coordination to provide for inter-operability in the development of new telecommunication networks and services. Among the manifold sources of strain on the old structure, those which seem at once most fundamental and potentially most threatening are the recently heightened industrial perceptions of the potential strategic value of standards as tools of business competition and national policy, and the incentives for 'institutional by-pass' that have been created by the rapid proliferation of technological possibilities. The paper considers some alternative organizational models for negotiated standard-setting that might be able to withstand, and better harness these forces for the continued production of standards as public goods.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Telecommunications Policy.

Volume (Year): 20 (1996)
Issue (Month): 10 (December)
Pages: 789-815

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Handle: RePEc:eee:telpol:v:20:y:1996:i:10:p:789-815

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Cited by:
  1. Vercoulen,Frank & Wegberg,Marc,van, 1998. "Standard Selection Modes in Dynamic, Complex Industries: Creating Hybrids between Market Selection and Negotiated Selection of Standards," Research Memorandum 005, Maastricht University, Netherlands Institute of Business Organization and Strategy Research (NIBOR).
  2. Gao, Xudong, 2014. "A latecomer's strategy to promote a technology standard: The case of Datang and TD-SCDMA," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 597-607.
  3. Sammut-Bonnici, Tanya, 2010. "Network Strategy in the Digital Economy," MPRA Paper 50620, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Werle, Raymund, 2001. "Standards in the international telecommunications regime," HWWA Discussion Papers 157, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
  5. Michael C. Christensen & Dahlia Remler, 2007. "Information and Communications Technology in Chronic Disease Care: Why is Adoption So Slow and Is Slower Better?," NBER Working Papers 13078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Wegberg,Marc,van, 2003. "The grand coalition versus competing coalitions: trade-offs in how to standardize," Research Memorandum 032, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  7. Paul A. David, 2001. "The Beginnings and Prospective Ending of “End-to-End”," Working Papers 01012, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  8. Paul A. David, 2005. "The Beginnings and Prospective Ending of “End-to-End”: An Evolutionary Perspective On the Internet’s Architecture," Industrial Organization 0502012, EconWPA.
  9. Paul Belleflamme, 2000. "Coordination on Formal vs. de facto Standards: A Dynamic Approach," Working Papers 412, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  10. Goyal, Ashima, 2005. "New technology and labour Markets: Entrants, outsourcing and matching," MPRA Paper 24620, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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