The June 2010 issue of ISO Focus+ – the magazine of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) – presents concrete examples of how ISO International Standards provide benefits to business, government and society. It has been published to coincide with a workshop being held under the same name on 9 July during the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) Academic Week.

Economic theorists have been studying the role and impact of standards for many years. In the mainstream view of economists, standards are seen as contributing to public welfare by:

•  Improving economic efficiency – ensuring compatibility and interoperability and supporting variety reduction, standards allow the development of. markets for materials and product components, as well as for complementary products);
•  Limiting “market failures” – e.g. by reducing the “information asymmetry” between buyers and producers through minimum quality and safety standards;
• Promoting trade.

To draw attention to their contribution, ISO Focus+ is devoting the special report of its June 2010 edition to the economic and social benefits of standards.

This special report is dedicated to the vast amount of research done, ranging from analysis of the macro-economic impact of standards on national economies and international trade, through case studies covering specific businesses and industry sectors, and to the ISO Methodology for assessing the benefits of standards, developed with the support of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

It brings together a portfolio of articles reflecting on the contribution that consensus-based standards make to improving the performances of companies and industries, as well as to providing societal benefits for countries and communities. The consolidation of knowledge deriving from these studies will make a significant contribution to enhancing the stature of standardization by providing stakeholder with more objective evaluations of the impact of standards.

With contributions from leading experts, the June issue takes a look at the importance of standards to innovation, return on investment, market and business development, and the benefits of participating in their development. It also includes the economic impact of standardization, technological change and standards growth in France.  

The June edition of ISO Focus+ also features an exclusive interview with Pasquale Pistorio, former President and CEO of STMicroelectronics, and its current Honorary Chairman, who says, "I would confidently say that ST has taken a proactive approach. We consider standards as tools for progress. Within ST, standards pose a competitive challenge, a desire to do and be better, a driver for continual improvement."

He  goes on to share his thoughts on measuring the benefits of standards. "Internally, it’s easy. We set targets and measure them. Externally it’s more difficult to establish exact figures, but if you don’t comply, you lose a market. That is a good way to see it, as a must for success."  

ISO Focus+, June 2010

Standards: Economic and social impact