Industrial Legislatures: The American System of Standardization

Much like the history of the American nation itself, this American system of standardization has strong traditions of voluntarism, local control, meritocracy, rights to represent one's own interests, and a marked preference for private coordination of commercial activity. By the first decades of the twentieth century, the range of standard-setting institutions in many respects resembled our situation today: a decentralized and pluralistic constellation of institutions, each pursuing standardization to suit their own objectives within a dynamic and competitive international context. The author’s approach to the history of the American system of standardization—and its significance for international standardization—is to focus on ideas and institutions. There are striking similarities between the challenges that faced proponents of industry standardization in the early twentieth century and those who aimed to advance the cause of consensus standardization in the late twentieth century. Both historical contexts are marked by constant jurisdictional conflicts, complex technical problems, a competitive international economy, and the continual need to negotiate boundaries between government control, market activity, and collaborative institutions.

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Published:2006
Classification:Publications with Country / Regional Focus
AuthorsAndrew Russell (John Hopkins University, USA)
ISSN/ISBN:ISBN: 2-8318-8867-0
Other bibliographical information:International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)