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date: 23 May 2018

Summary and Keywords

Technology standards are norms or requirements established by consensus and approved by a recognized body that sets uniform engineering or technical criteria. They also come in three types: reference, minimum quality, and compatibility standards. A reference standard is a material, device, or instrument whose assigned value is known relative to national standards or nationally accepted measurement systems. A minimum quality standard, meanwhile, sets criteria for quality, permitting sellers to certify a good or a service as meeting (or not) those criteria. Finally, compatibility standards set criteria for how a device works with other devices. Technology standards have always been important in the world economy, but they are becoming more so in the electronic age. Firms compete with one another for the prestige of establishing a new standard and especially technology platforms or architectures, and governments try to get standards adopted internationally that result in more local jobs and income. This is increasingly difficult as the world economy becomes more global, but that poses no deterrent. International relations scholars have adopted economist and rationalist choice approaches to standard setting in technology. They go beyond them, however, to talk about standards as part of an overall governance system or regime, especially in international affairs.

Keywords: technology standards, technical standards, reference standards, minimum quality standards, compatibility standards, national standards, world economy, standard setting

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