Multi-Mode Standardisation: A Critical Review and a Research Agenda

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Standardisation is key to shaping new technologies and supporting major ongoing trends, such as the increased importance of platforms, developing ‘smart’ technologies and innovating large-scale complex systems. Standardisation plays a key role in shaping the rules that govern these developments and their effects on society. Due to the large variety of actors involved in these trends, the associated standardisation processes are likely to involve all three modes of standardisation identified in the literature: committee-based, market-based and government-based. This multi-mode standardisation challenges the theoretical views on standardisation which predominantly focus on one of the modes. In this paper, we review the existing literatures on individual modes and on multi-mode standardisation. By recombining existing evidence, we generate new insights into multimode standardisation processes. These first insights relate to the contributions that each mode can make to such processes’ outcomes and suggest that their impact depends on factors, such as their initiation’s timing and the institutional context in which the standardisation process occurs. Moreover, we consider the conditions under which actors can launch each mode. Based on our observations, we formulate an agenda for future research to obtain a better understanding of multi-mode standardisation. We offer recommendations for industry actors, NGOs, researchers and policy makers involved in shaping technological and societal change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1370-1386
Number of pages17
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017


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