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The American System: A Schumpeterian History of Standardization

Andrew L. Russell

Johns Hopkins University

March 5, 2007

Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper No. 14.4

While governments as far back as the ancient Egyptians have implemented industry standards, their economic importance grew with the spread of industrialization. Throughout the 1800s, the rise of nationalism, a greater emphasis on accuracy and precision science, and the steady march of industrialization further underlined the importance of standards for establishing competitive advantages in the industrial age. In the Information Age, The U.S. government has played specific roles in the system of standardization: investment and leadership in basics standards to relieve some financial burden from firms; specific research and development funding for information technology; and policies that support standards built through industry consensus. While a few exceptions exist where the U.S. government has played a direct role in standards setting, policymakers have preferred to rely on standards set by private firms and collaboration. This market-oriented approach to industrial standards greatly increases the chances of such standards being widely adopted and implemented.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 22

Keywords: standardization, individualism, industrial revolution, entrepreneurship, information age, competition, standards, de jure, capitalism, creativity, creative destruction, innovation, Schumpeter, socialism, bureaucracy, enteprise, state ownership, antitrust, metric system, measures, weights,

JEL Classification: B20,L5,N00,D70,O14,E11,O3,O31,O32,O38,L40,L51

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Date posted: March 27, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Russell, Andrew L., The American System: A Schumpeterian History of Standardization (March 5, 2007). Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper No. 14.4. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=975259 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.975259

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Andrew L. Russell (Contact Author)
Johns Hopkins University ( email )
History of Science and Technology
3505 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States
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