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Technology users and standardization: Game changing strategies in the field of smart meter technology

Jochen Markard and Sabine Erlinghagen

Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2017, vol. 118, issue C, 226-235

Abstract: Struggles over technology standards are typically reported for competing technology providers. Technology users often play not much of a role in standard development. This paper presents findings from the emerging innovation system of smart meter communication, in which large technology users act as standard developers. This phenomenon is relatively rare, as users often lack the resources and competences to actively engage in standard development. Over a period of 14years (2000–2013), we track how different standards emerged and changed, why and how users became standard sponsors, and what impact this had on the field. Our analysis is based on variety of data sources, including participatory observation and expert interviews. After an initial period, in which only proprietary standards were available, two large users started to develop open standards together with alliance partners and standard development organizations. Consequently, sponsors of proprietary standards change their strategies, also toward open, alliance-based standards. A central condition for this shift in standardization was that the two users controlled large shares of the market. Our research points to the conditions for user involvement in standardization, thereby contrasting three different settings for standard development. We interpret the case as an example for the larger issue of institutional structures in technological innovation systems developing over time in a patchwork-like way, thereby shaping and changing the conditions for strategic action.

Keywords: Technology standards; Standardization strategies; Technological innovation system; Open standards; Users; Energy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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