The Role of Standards in Innovation

Robert H. Allen, Ram D. Sriram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


We review and explore the role of standards in innovation, with particular emphasis on design and manufacturing processes. We begin by defining and classifying standards and by exploring their role and infrastructure in society. This is followed by a similar discussion for innovation. By examining the relationships between innovation and standards, we extract the negative impact and the positive impact each has on the other. A study of four case histories in different domains - manufacturing, computer hardware, mechanical component design, and product data exchange - reveals that, as expected, standards are often derived from innovative technology. Surprisingly, however, innovation is often spurred - directly and indirectly - from standards as well. We conclude that, in general, the benefits of standards on innovation in design and manufacturing outweigh the possible limitations on creativity imposed by such standards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-181
Number of pages11
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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