HOW do STANDARDS emerge ?

Post 422 – by Gautam Shah



A Standard is that level of Performance or accomplishment which has been selected as an Ideal to which actions or objects may be equated’. Standards emerge as a consensus, from equalization of divergent views, beliefs or concepts. Such a consensus is with intentions of efficiency and commercial advantage.


The process of Standardization involves two sets of stack-holders, the User and the Provider. The user includes individuals, groups, and Governments. The providers are manufacturers, suppliers and service providers. Standards offer a clear communication platform between User and the Providers, at a relatively low cost and with some degree of efficiency.

compliance rating plate Assurance often beyond standards

Standards do create iron-clad situations, where only one solution is sought and offered. Standards promote interchangeable parts, replaceable systems and inter polarity of systems by encouraging concepts like ‘Open-Ended-Architecture’, ‘Modulated Plug-in Systems’, ‘Networking’, ‘Shareware’, etc.

Standards for Foods

Standards emerge at many different levels and the process takes sometime to mature. At basic level these are most widely acceptable strategies. But at higher level, a person, an organization or a government department must strive for greater universal participation. Such an active role in the society manifests as a Pursuit for quality for all aspects of being. The pursuit of quality is reflected in: desire to excel, readiness for improvisation, steadfastness to good practices, transparency in dealings, persistence for consistency, wider application.

Coffee testing -often personal standard

Personal standards are subjective as are compiled by a Person, as a ‘collection of bests’, ‘most favoured or representative items’ or ‘my suggestion’. Since these are sensibly picked out items or ideas, represent a Quality Conscience of the Author, and so are personal standards. Personal Standards are valued for the author’s mastery over the subject, then the absolute quality of the material included. Personal standards combined with personal norms for enforcement are often tyrannical. Personal standards describe entities’ physical characteristics, but rarely provide for the ways and means (processes) of achieving it, or even testing it.

Typical examples of personal standards, are: Time saver standards for architecture and interior design, Furniture or item catalogues, Special issues of periodicals, etc.


Standards as a strategic understanding occurs between the competitors and among associates to manage a situation such as: reduce the rivalry, rationalize the methods of production, reduce the costs, enhance the image of the product, form a cartel to ward off the non-members etc. Such standards also emerge without any distinct effort, by ‘followers of the same path’, to strategy for similar actions. A Work-Culture or Faith comradiery develops among the practitioners.

Gold Smith -compulsory to work with a Guild

Standards of clan or cast: Members of Clan or Cast can have a tacit or formal understanding for acting in unison. Such understandings are of usually negative dictates and are very restrictive. These understandings or standards sustain the livelihood by protecting the exclusive or patent know-how, and by regulating the competition among the members. The standards are of behavioural norms and less of technological specifications. Clans and casts flourish by acting in consonance with the Rulers or Government. Over a period of time the divergent policies and directives of the clans get rationalized as the Code of Conduct. Such Codes relate to personal behaviour, formation and conduct of commercial activities, use of resources including the environment, safety measures, risks management, manufacturing, handling and disposing of the materials, and trade practices relating to the weights, measures, economic transactions, employment, etc.

Indians at a Hudson Bay Company trading post Buyers Virtual standards

Virtual standards come into effect when major users and providers like Government departments (defence, railways, etc.) who are intensive formatters of rules. Their needs become de-facto standards. These agencies have the advantages of testing facilities, supervisory mechanisms, and experience for rationalizing the work procedures. These are Standards by Preference and Prevalence.

Standardization Mark for Indian National Flag

National standards have a strong indigenous origin, because materials and human skills, both have strong local character and advantage. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in India, and National Standards agencies in many countries of the world, operate as a Standards Formulating, Licensing, and Enforcing-agency. Whereas some governments like USA, act only as a Facilitating agency, encouraging the trade organizations and technical associations to take the lead in not only developing standards, but for their enforcement.

Governments during the later part of 20th century found it easier to frame laws along with formulation of standards. In many small countries, standards for only very urgent and acute requirements are integrated into the legislation. ‘Formulation of Standards’ and Legislation is considered to be the same.

Merchants have sought methods to minimize risks since early times. Pictured, Governors of the Wine Merchant’s Guild by Ferdinand Bol, c. 1680.

International standards emerged when vastly differing national standards created problems of compatibility. National standards are designed to serve the national interests, which are protectionist, restrictive and negative in nature. National standards cover only the exigent needs of the nation, so do not serve the interests of regional economic activities. To create universally acceptable charter, nations come together to form International Standards, such as through the ISO.

International Standards do not have Legislative Support or Enforcement backing of a Government. International Standards work on Voluntary Corroboration. Such standards flourish on the realization that greater advantages are earned by following it, rather then not being part of it. Success of International Standards depends on the Rational Confirmation and Wider Acceptance.


International Management standards are emerging as code or system for participatory operations. International standards were restricting the individual needs and creativity in several manners. First, the formulation and updating of international standards are a slow process, and development or innovation cannot wait for it. Second, the international standards are rather archaic for many. Third, the international standards had no universal legislative backup. So the stack holders would rely on transparency and participation of operations. Fourth, many companies, who wish to surpass the provisions of international standards, are ready to provision necessary assurances for it. Several Management standards as Systems have emerged, that provides for such declarative codes for conduct.


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