The mail note exchange points to a number of issues. The growing literature on IT standardization provides some assistance in the development of an analytic framework for carrying the discussion forward. For example, it is interesting to note the evolution of focus in the major treatises on IT standardization. Cerni provides an early analysis which focuses on the technological choices. Cargill acknowledges the technological choices but provides a strong focus on the business imperatives in IT standardization. The most resent contribution by Libicki looks at the political forces that are involved. The interested reader will benefit from a review of the numerous descriptive treatments of the standardization process[1,7,12,16,19,21,22,25,26]. In this mix, it is most interesting to note again the shift from the description of a technical process to a much more political process. In addition, there are many conceptual analyses, most of which use economic models[2,3,4,10,11,14,15], but increasingly, analyses look at the issues from other perspectives as well[5,13,27]. Lastly, there is a growing body of empirical research beginning with work at CMU under the direction of Marvin Sirbu and at Stanford under the direction of Paul David as well as by Bob Toth as a part of his broad ranging consulting efforts[24,23,31]. More recently, work has been undertaken by Spring and Weiss at the University of Pittsburgh and by Lehr at Columbia, Economides at NYU and others.[35,29,16,32].
Perhaps most relevant to this current discussion has been the contribution of Linda Garcia through her study on Global Standards prepared for the Congress as a study of the Office of Technology Assessment. Garcia suggested several possible mechanisms by which the government might collaborate with private industry so as to maintain the best practices that have evolved in US standardization while responding in some way to the increased pressures produced by global competition. While the reactions to the OTA study were strongly opposed to any form of government intercession, one legacy of the study seems to be a more open discussion of the fact that it may be useful (or even necessary) to find some means to gain increased government support of the process.
In carrying forward the discussion, we endeavored to identify the critical operational issues and to suggest some ways in which the process might be improved in the US with an eye to the US role in regional and international standardization. Collectively, the authors have had experience with all of the various types of standards organizations operating at both national and international levels. The goal of this collaboration has been to take the time to examine our situation and come to some consensus about where we think we should be going. This discussion does not represent the views of any one individual, nor does it take the position of the various corporate organizations or standards bodies with which the authors are affiliated. Given the freedom of an academic position, Spring assumed responsibility to formulate the final phrasing of the discussion. This is not to suggest that this is simply an academic polemic. Nor does this suggest that the discussion which follows is less than a consensus of all the authors. Every effort has been made in the best tradition of standardization to arrive at a position that reflects the shared opinion of the group as to the best technical solution to the problem. While most comments are attributed to one or another of the authors to establish the context or clarifying a relation, not all statements are attributed, particularly where such attribution appeared to conflict with the goal of exposition.