STANDARDS FOR STANDARD SETTING: CONTESTING THE ORGANIZATIONAL FIELD. Garcia, D. The Standards Edge: Dynamic Tension, 2004.
STANDARDS FOR STANDARD SETTING: CONTESTING THE ORGANIZATIONAL FIELD [doc]Website  abstract   bibtex   
Over the past several years, IT standardization has witnessed a breakdown in the consensus that hitherto governed the activities of participants in this domain. Not only have new players appeared on the scene; the legitimacy of the old system has also been called into question. In some cases, the Government has been called on to intervene as a third party. This state of affairs can best be understood as a crisis within an ‘organizational field.’ An organizational field is a recognized domain of human activity in which interdependent actors/organizations interact in accordance with an agreed upon logic or script to achieve some common objective (DiMaggio and Powell 1991). Consensus with respect to objectives does not, however, preclude conflict. To the contrary, organizational fields are highly contested arenas in which actors compete not only for resources but also—and as importantly—for legitimacy (Schwartz 1997). By legitimating their own values and positions within a field, organizations can tilt the ‘rules of the game,’ in their favor with long lasting effects (Fligstein 2002). Viewing a domain of human activities through an organizational field perspective helps to bring the roles of, and the relationships between, public and private realms into greater relief. Generally speaking, organizational fields are relatively self-contained and independent within their own sphere of activity (Schwartz 1997). However, when fields become the battleground of contesting parties, the autonomy of the field is greatly reduced. Contending parties will seek to reinforce their positions by linking them to the deep-seated values and norms of society as a whole (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992). It is at this point that the public sector has a unique opportunity—or as some might say a major responsibility—to revisit and reevaluate performance within the field in terms of the broader public interest. IT standard setting is an organizational field of activities in which the public and private sectors both have tremendous stakes (OTA 1992). Such is especially the case today given a networked economy in which standards serve not only to determine the architecture and topography of the economic infrastructure, but also winners and losers (OTA 1992; OTA 1994). In a period of rapid technological advance, traditional organizational forms and modes of standard setting are breaking down, while new ones—such as standards consortia, and open source models—are competing intensely for the terrain. There is no reason to believe that the outcome that emerges from this private sector contest will coincide with the public interest (North 1991; Hodgson, Itoh et al. 2001). Thus, as the contenders vie for predominance in the field, the time is ripe for Government, on behalf of the public, to become more engaged in the action by setting some basic standards for standard setters.
@article{
 title = {STANDARDS FOR STANDARD SETTING: CONTESTING THE ORGANIZATIONAL FIELD},
 type = {article},
 year = {2004},
 websites = {http://www18.georgetown.edu/data/people/garciadl/publication-20502.doc},
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 notes = {Standards-setting bodies as an organizational field.<br/><br/><br/>Also argues for an increased role by governments and the question of public interest outcomes of technical standardization.<br/><br/><br/>Argues, with citations, for technical standards-setting as an organizational field. Explains some of the background around consortia and the preference for voluntary consensus-based standards in the US. Argues (not very convincingly) that the organizational field is failing, turnover is high, too many consortia, too confusing, and thus needs government intervention.<br/><br/><br/>Kind of a sloppy paper. Was this just a draft?},
 private_publication = {false},
 abstract = {Over the past several years, IT standardization has witnessed a breakdown in the consensus that hitherto governed the activities of participants in this domain. Not only have new players appeared on the scene; the legitimacy of the old system has also been called into question. In some cases, the Government has been called on to intervene as a third party. This state of affairs can best be understood as a crisis within an ‘organizational field.’ An organizational field is a recognized domain of human activity in which interdependent actors/organizations interact in accordance with an agreed upon logic or script to achieve some common objective (DiMaggio and Powell 1991). Consensus with respect to objectives does not, however, preclude conflict. To the contrary, organizational fields are highly contested arenas in which actors compete not only for resources but also—and as importantly—for legitimacy (Schwartz 1997). By legitimating their own values and positions within a field, organizations can tilt the ‘rules of the game,’ in their favor with long lasting effects (Fligstein 2002). Viewing a domain of human activities through an organizational field perspective helps to bring the roles of, and the relationships between, public and private realms into greater relief. Generally speaking, organizational fields are relatively self-contained and independent within their own sphere of activity (Schwartz 1997). However, when fields become the battleground of contesting parties, the autonomy of the field is greatly reduced. Contending parties will seek to reinforce their positions by linking them to the deep-seated values and norms of society as a whole (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992). It is at this point that the public sector has a unique opportunity—or as some might say a major responsibility—to revisit and reevaluate performance within the field in terms of the broader public interest. IT standard setting is an organizational field of activities in which the public and private sectors both have tremendous stakes (OTA 1992). Such is especially the case today given a networked economy in which standards serve not only to determine the architecture and topography of the economic infrastructure, but also winners and losers (OTA 1992; OTA 1994). In a period of rapid technological advance, traditional organizational forms and modes of standard setting are breaking down, while new ones—such as standards consortia, and open source models—are competing intensely for the terrain. There is no reason to believe that the outcome that emerges from this private sector contest will coincide with the public interest (North 1991; Hodgson, Itoh et al. 2001). Thus, as the contenders vie for predominance in the field, the time is ripe for Government, on behalf of the public, to become more engaged in the action by setting some basic standards for standard setters.},
 bibtype = {article},
 author = {Garcia, DL},
 journal = {The Standards Edge: Dynamic Tension}
}
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