Smart grid


International Standardization


Papers and publications by
Academia and Governments


This page provides access to relevant articles and publications that address issues pertaining to the IEC or electrotechnical standardization in general.


Additionally, material that highlights the role and potential benefits of adhering to International Standards on electrotechnology as a key facilitator of international trade and a contributor of economic integration can be found here. 




Papers and publications by Academia and Governments


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Role of IEC standards in Knowledge Management 1.0

Hao Hu,

Jack Sheldon


A standard is a document that presents the combined expertise and knowhow of many experts and is designed to provide technical specifications or other precise criteria, such as technical guidance or definitions. The process of standards development itself is similar to knowledge management. Due to lengthy time frames and technical complexity, knowledge management is crucial for the retention of existing skills and development of new ones in the nuclear industry. This paper analyzes the similarities and strengths of international standards in the field of nuclear knowledge management by introducing the procedure of developing IEC standards. Furthermore, it suggests that the nuclear industry could increasingly use IEC standards to facilitate knowledge management.

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International Standards that Promote Technological and Social Innovations – The Case of the IEC

Dr. Hiromichi Fujisawa, Research & Development Group, Hitachi, Ltd.
Former Vice President of the IEC and Chairman of Conformity Assessment Board


An industry perspective on the increasing significance of international standards and their developmental activities is presented. Today’s global concerns such as more efficient energy use, rapid population growth, super ageing societies, continuing urbanization, etc., demand technological and social innovations based on sound technologies and appropriate social infrastructures. To bring about such innovations, it is well recognized that broad stakeholder groups should come together and collaborate to co-create solutions that meet such global challenges. With this understanding, international standards organizations such as the IEC are striving to provide a “level playing field” and act as a catalyst for broad stakeholders to come together and work on common foundations for solutions. This paper takes the case of the IEC, International Electrotechnical Commission, as an example, and explains how this organization approaches such issues. Topical examples cited are Smart Grid, Smart Cities, and Renewable Energies, for which broad stakeholder groups covering regulators, manufacturers, system integrators, testing/certification bodies, financial institutions, etc. are invited.

The new Global Rulers: The Privatization of Regulation in the World Economy

Tim Büthe & Walter Mattli
Princeton University Press

The book offers a comparative analysis of inter-/transnational standard-setting for global product and financial markets. It includes a thorough analysis of multi-country, multi-industry business surveys about ISO and IEC standard-setting along with analyses of the standards of (and the standard-setting in) the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB, which develops the International Financial Reporting Standards, IFRS).

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Academic Standardisation Education, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University in Europe, Hesser, W. and Vries, H. (2011)

The White Paper on Academic Standardisation Education uses IEC membership and particularly the level of involvement in the work of the IEC as a key competitiveness indicator at the regional level. It draws particular emphasis on Europe’s active involvement in the work of the IEC through its technical committees. This White Paper calls for the establishment of the European Standardisation Education Agency because standardisation is a strategic asset at the level of companies, industry sectors, countries and regions. Thus, to excel in standardisation, proper education is needed.


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European Commission: A strategic vision for European standards: Moving forward to enhance and accelerate the sustainable growth of the European economy by 2020, (2011)

The European Commission in its strategy on moving forward to enhance and accelerate the sustainable growth of the European economy by 2020, acknowledges that Europe already plays a leading role in international standardization. This is accomplished by the membership of individual countries in key international standards bodies and special agreements such as the Dresden agreement between CEN-CENELEC and the IEC. . The strategy recognises that international standards, contribute to the removal of trade barriers resulting from differences in technical regulations of various countries, and are a powerful tool for promoting regulatory convergence. It encourages European standards to wherever possible, be based upon international standards such as those from the IEC.

Throughout, it highlights that standards have an important role to play in supporting the competitiveness of European businesses in the global market, allowing them to access foreign markets and establish business partnerships around the globe.

Reducing Trade Transaction Costs: Harmonization of Standards and Conformity Assessments in APEC

APEC Policy Support Unit
October 2011

Graeme Drake, GED Advisory, Australia


Standards and conformity assessment requirements can influence trade and trade transaction costs. This report provides information and findings related to the impact of the alignement of APEC member economic technical regulations and domestic standards with international standards in electrical and electronic products as well as conformity certificates established under the IECEE CB Scheme.

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European Commission, Standards and Standardization Handbook, (2010)

The European Commission recognizes the IEC as key player in the standardization field in its handbook on standardization. This handbook has been produced to provide mainly its members with a basic understanding of standards and the standardization process and how standards can contribute to the dissemination and implementation of project outputs for the wider benefit of industry, commerce and consumers. It acknowledges that whilst standards can play an important role in the dissemination of project results, they are often overlooked in favour of other mechanisms, such as scientific publications, conference presentations and patents. Therefore, this handbook highlights the complementary role that standards can play in making the results of research accessible to potential users, and to help guide researchers through, what is frequently, the unfamiliar territory of standards making.

Engineering Uncontestedness? The Origins and Institutional Development of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

Tim Büthe, Duke University
Business and Politics, Volume 12, Issue 3, 2010

Please note that a “guest account” may be required to access the full article. Creating an account with Berkeley Electronic Press is free.

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The Economic Impact of Standardizations. Technological change, standards growth in France (2009)

At the economy wide level, this study examined the long-term relationship between standards and economic growth from 1950 to 2007, similar to the studies conducted in Germany, UK, Australia and Canada. At the micro-level, this study analysed the perception of various companies regarding the impact of standardization.

The study found that companies of all sizes understand the benefits of standardization in terms of: product interoperability, increased productivity, market share gains, and ease of cooperation with public R&D institutions.

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The WTO, Harmonization of International Standards and Electric Utilities, Programme on United States-Japan relations, Harvard University - Naoki Kobayashi, (2008)

Research under the Harvard University’s Programme on U.S. – Japan Relations highlights the importance of active participation in international standard setting in electrotechnology. The paper shows the important role that IEC membership and active participation has played.

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Economic Value of Standardization, Standards Council of Canada (2007)

This study looked at the overall impact of standardization on international trade, growth and productivity and the Canadian economy. It also comprises a series of in-depth interviews with senior executives on the value of standardization for their organization.

The study states that standards impact international trade in the following three ways: i) by providing information on quality they improve the possibility of non-price competition and lead to a better trade performance, ii) international standards improve compatibility, product information and the ability to measure, and iii) this in turn helps reduce the need to produce local market variations. The study argues that purely national standards may inhibit international trade because they include preferences of the local consumer that may not have a significant impact on international markets.

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Standards and the Economy, Centre for International Economics, Australia (2006)

This study looked at both the impact of standardization on the overall economy and the benefits of standardization for business.

At the macro-level it concluded that there is a positive relationship of significant economic magnitude between the total factor of productivity and the stock of standards. At the micro-level, the case studies presented the following aspects of the economic benefit of standards: i) dissemination of scientific knowledge and principles, ii) productivity gains, and iii) collation and transmission of valuable information.

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Economic benefits of standardization, DIN German Institute for Standardization (2000)

This study looked at the effects of standardization, results of the company survey and interviews with experts. It also looked at standardization and technological change, the effects of standardization on the German economy and foreign trade.

At the firm level, it was found that the relevance of standards could be established and demonstrated. However, decision-makers in many companies seem hardly aware of it. Therefore, the strategic potential of standards is not fully appreciated. The decision to participate (or not participate) in the standardization process is solely based on time and cost factors.

The macroeconomic level analysis covering concluded that the economic impact of standardization on the overall economy was approximately 1% of GNP (Gross National Product) per annum. Economic development did not solely depend on innovation potential but also on broad dissemination of standards and technical rules.

Overall, there is empirical support for the theory that international standards lead to international competitiveness.