Race to the Market: Can Standards Survive the Acceleration of Innovation and Product Life Cycles?
Spatial Dispersed Production and Network Governance, Papers Presented at the 11th Uddevalla Symposium, 15 – 17. May 2008, Kyoto, Research Report 2008,
Plagiarism of emerging market countries has for a considerable time been seen as the main challenge to the western approach of codifying and securing intellectual property rights (IPRs). This neglects the fact that historically all countries which tried to converge to the level of successful economies copied technology. The discussion shadows our view that the more imminent question is whether the steady increase in competition intensity which shortens product life cycles and puts pressure on the invention and innovation system, provides enough time to patent and to standardize. As patent activity not only provides incentives for sinking costs into R&D but is also a first step in the dissemination of technologies, and as standards, especially formal standards, generate level playing fields in broad and reliable markets, this may be critical in the long run. Furthermore, the migration of technologies as a result of a steady reorganization of the spatial division of labor may lead to the adverse situation that countries harboring technologies do not have appropriate institutions for knowledge codification.
Exogenous factors that – at least in the short run – cannot be influenced by the standardization bodies are the level of cooperation among interested parties (and mutual trust and institutional linkage), the competitiveness of the technology, the ability to generate externalities by knowledge codification, and the productivity of the technologies. The most important single success factor that standardization bodies can influence is the speed with which a committee proceeds to timely publish formal standards. With reference to a game-theoretical model and based on data for 1997 and 2007 on published formal standards, we show that until now, standardization bodies seem to have successfully coped with the situation.
Market Follows Standards
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
Standards are an important part of the codified knowledge of a society. In contrast to industry standards, formal standards are created in a consensus-based procedure open to all interested parties. Only if an economic interest for application exists will formal standards be produced. Interested parties have to shoulder participation costs themselves, which enforces economic interest. Up to a certain extent, governments also trigger and finance formal standardisation processes through the new approach, which creates a framework that is filled by private activity. Standards stand at the end of intellectual property rights if the totality of the value chain of knowledge production is looked at. One important aspect is their accessibility and the inclusion of all necessary intellectual property rights, especially patents, at reasonable prices. Conversely, consortia may exclude groups from the use of their standards. By preventing the licensing of those patents included in a standard, they can effectively block market entry. Thus, “successful” standards often face antitrust problems. Formal standards reduce costs of production through economies of scale, economies of scope and network-economies. Goods and processes that are standardized signal quality, the inclusion of high technological standards and permanent presence in the markets, which again accelerates market dissemination. Firms face a dilemma: On the one hand, the penetration of a markets with industry standards offers potentials for high profits; on the other hand, this has to be balanced against the risk of failure, especially if clients are hesitant because they do not know which standard will be successful in the end. Formal standards create and stabilize trust markets. This is especially true in the area of globalisation. Europe, which has to face an enormous competition in the international knowledge economy, needs an institutionally efficient approach to formal standardisation. This contribution addresses future problems of the European standardisation that have been developed within the framework of a working group of the European Standardisation Organisation called Future Landscape of European Standardisation (FLES).