The AFNOR study, which was authored by AFNOR's Marketing and Innovation Department, comprises two dimensions:
Firstly, a macroeconomic analysis in order to assess the relationship between standards and growth in the long term. This analysis is based on a methodology which was used for the first time in Germany (1999) and was subsequently adopted – with a few amendments – in the United Kingdom (2005), in Australia (2007) and in Canada (2007).
It reveals that, over time, standardization directly contributes to the growth in the French economy, for up to 0.81 %, or almost 25 % of GDP growth.
Secondly, a microeconomic analysis in order to collect company perceptions of the impact of standardization. A survey of 1 790 companies or organizations of all sizes and from all sectors of activity, irrespective of whether or not they are involved in the standardization process, was conducted so as to complement the macroeconomic analysis. Over 66 % of the companies interviewed value standardization for its contribution to the generation of profits, proving that it has a positive impact on a company’s value.
Another result is that not just large corporations, capable of mobilizing considerable resources in the standardization process, consider voluntary standards beneficial for their activities. SMEs with 250 employees or less also found them beneficial. Thus, 69.3 % of companies consider standardization to have a positive impact on their activity.
From a macroeconomic standpoint, standardization directly contributes to the growth in the French economy. Standardization contributes an average of 0.81% per year, or almost 25% of GDP growth. This is in line with figures for other technological leading countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom.
An in-depth survey of 1,790 companies or organizations of all sizes and from all sectors of activity, showed that over 66% of the companies stated that standardization contributes to the generation of profits, proving that it has a positive impact on a company’s value. This also applies to SMEs with 250 employees or less also found them beneficial. Thus, 69.3% of companies consider standardization to have a positive impact on their activity. 71.2% of respondents found that participating in standardization enabled them to anticipate future market requirements in their own particular sector. 61.6% of respondents said that investing in standardization was an efficient strategy for promoting their interests at both European and international levels.
Five major lessons emerge from this study:
- Company value enhancement. When 70% of those interviewed stated that voluntary standards contribute to enhancing their company value, they were referring to standardization as an economic asset, i.e. a knowledge capital that contributes true value.
- Innovation. Standardization not only promotes the dissemination of innovation without revealing a company’s manufacturing or technological secrets; it also renews the interest for a product. 63% of respondents favoured this approach, saying that voluntary standards made it possible to better differentiate products. Standardization is a selective tool.
- Transparency and ethics. 61% maintained that standards contributed to improved compliance with competition rules, and 56% approved of their voluntary nature, which facilitates collaboration with other stakeholders. Standardization establishes the rules of the game, making it possible to eliminate players who fail to comply.
- International. 90% of standards are European or international in origin. 70% of companies surveyed found that they provide a genuine advantage for developing international exchanges. 46% of companies actually found that standards enabled them to increase their export capacity. Standardization constitutes a genuine passport when it comes to exports.
- Product and service quality. Standardization is a true guarantee of quality. 74% confirm that standardization gives them greater control over safety-related problems, and 79% say that it helps optimize compliance with regulations.