We review and explore the role of standards in innovation, with particular emphasis on the 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. As expected, a study of four case histories in various domains - manufacturing, computer hardware, mechanical component design, and product data exchange -- reveals that 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.

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Publication type:
  • Journal article
Other authors:
  • Robert Allen
  • Ram Sriram