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The political economy of standards and standard-setting processes

: Meyer, Niclas

Postprint urn:nbn:de:0011-n-3092503 (56 KByte PDF)
MD5 Fingerprint: d2e24dee11f1129a374117f1b8dbc884
Erstellt am: 19.12.2018

Praxis der Informationsverarbeitung und Kommunikation : PIK 37 (2014), Nr.3, S.177-181
ISSN: 0930-5157
ISSN: 1865-8342
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer ISI ()

Standard-setting is not (only) concerned with the solution of technical problems. Under the guise of technical problem solving, standard-setting processes often deal with redistributive and normative issues. In standard-setting there tend to be clearly identifiable winners and losers. This makes it inherently political in nature. Democratic political systems generally foresee legislative processes to deal with such issues. Delegating these issues to standard-setters is in itself a political choice. This paper is meant to clear the mist that usually covers the political realities of standard-setting processes. It is neither meant to serve as a guidebook on how to play standard-setting processes, nor does this paper sanction the processes described in this paper. Where necessary, however, it raises questions about the fairness and democratic legitimacy of the processes described, but leaves it to other - and wiser - commentators to propose improvements. The paper is not meant to sow cynicism and asks the reader to remember that, in line with Churchill's remark that "democracy is the worst system of government, apart from all the others", we do live in a second-best world.