Complex interactions between international standardization and national innovation projects
12 / 2006 - unknown
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - NWO
ICT networks are increasingly international in nature, which makes it difficult for national governments to influence their development and use. The standards on which they run cater to shared international needs, while at the same time the call for customized, local and flexible network technologies is becoming more urgent. Hence, there is a tension between the desire for standards and stability on the one hand and flexibility and adaptation to local preferences on the other hand. This project investigates how national governments deal with this tension and aims at improving the policy-making strategies that can be employed by national governments to intervene in innovation and standardization processes with a strong international dimension. To gain empirical insight into the interactions between international standardization and national innovation projects, we will carry out a comprehensive case study (based on in-depth interviews and archival research). In the early 1990s, several European governments started to think about the international coordination of their security policies. The Dutch government decided to build the C2000 network for the digital communication between emergency services. After years of negotiation and debate, it was decided to use the European Tetra standard for the C2000 network. In this process, the interactions between national policy makers and European standardization institutions (such as the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the Schengen Telecom Group and the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT)) played a key role. Developing standards like Tetra that facilitate the inter-connection of various national networks, the creation of an international ?network of networks? in the field of safety and security was the ultimate aim. The development of the Tetra standard and the building of the Dutch C2000 network took place simultaneously in the 1990s. This project focuses on the interactions between these two processes and the sometimes troublesome character of their co-evolution. Its theoretical focus consists of a detailed examination of two mechanisms that limit the policy space available to national governments in international standardization processes: (1) the tendency of standards to become obdurate (resistant to change) once they have been developed and implemented, and (2) the tendency of both standards and ICT networks to drift away from their initial scope and purpose. Our analysis serves two aims: (1) it will lead to an improved understanding of the tensions between international standardization and local adaptation and the policy strategies that national governments can develop (and have developed) to deal with these tensions; and (2) it shows how the mechanisms of obduracy and drift limit the policy space available to national governments. Thus, the scope of this project can be summarized by the following question: How do national governments, in interaction with European standardization institutions, deal with the tension between the need for internationally accepted, standardized ICT networks (i.c. the European Tetra standard) on the one hand, and the desire to adapt these networks to national policies and preferences (i.c. the C2000 project) on the other hand?