Economic benefits of standardisation (2006)


The potential for innovation is an important factor in maintaining competitiveness and economic growth in a high-tech economy. However, innovation is only a necessity and not in itself sufficient for an economy to remain competitive in a global context in the face of high labour costs. New products and improved methods of production must quickly assert themselves as broadly as possible for a positive economic development. This means that national policy should not only stimulate innovation but must also ensure its efficient diffusion. In addition to private sector marketing strategies, state legislation and public procurement programs, standardisation by non-government standards bodies, such as DIN, is a suitable instrument for disseminating new ideas, products and technologies.

This part of the study presents the first economic analysis of the interaction between technological change and standardisation, and the implications for the German economy and foreign trade.

Geographical scope

Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Non-quantified impacts

With its broad-based dual approach, this study produced numerous new insights into the economic effects of standardisation, giving results which are unique in the international context. However, despite the fact that the authors gained a clearer understanding of the significance of standardisation, a number of questions remain unanswered. Because of restrictions in time and funding, it was not possible to examine specific branches in the necessary detail. Although the comparisons with Austria and Switzerland added a European dimension to the study, further research outside Central Europe would be an important extension of the work begun here. To summarise, this study has made considerable progress in a fundamental analysis of the economic significance of standardisation, while at the same time opening the door for future research.

The results of the study can be used as the basis for a strategic discussion regarding the future of standards work. All those who are directly or indirectly affected by standards now have access to information which can help them define their future standardisation strategies. First, DIN and other standards bodies can use the study’s results to identify areas which could be improved in order to respond to current developments, and those areas with which their customers are satisfied. Furthermore, the interested parties now have a broad overview of the different effects of standardisation and can use this knowledge to shape their strategies. Overall, the study can act as long-term motivation for a strategic discussion of the future of standardisation.

  • International standards improve the competitive chances of domestic producers
  • Overall, there is empirical support for the theory that international standards lead to international competitiveness
  • Checking consistency: generally, the results of the study’s analyses and those of the company survey tally
  • Businesses do not regard standards as outdated
  • Contradictory effects of standards on R&D
  • Most businesses benefit from participating in standards work
  • Standards do not hinder innovation
  • Standards are internationally respected
  • Standards make technical specifications more transparent
  • The majority of businesses use European and international standards because of their positive effect on exports
  • International standards encourage trade
  • International and European Standards are more significant for German exports than are national standards
  • Increased participation in European and international standards work is necessary
  • Standards encourage technology transfer
  • Standards make it easier for foreign competitors to imitate products and processes
  • Standards should be concentrated in sectors in which there is the greatest national innovation potential
  • Macroeconomic benefits of standardisation are greater than the sum of individual advantages
  • Innovation policies should support standardisation

Quantifiable impacts

Results of the macroeconomic analysis show the economic benefits of standardisation to be approximately 1% of the German gross national product.



Study type

Economic analysis, interviews

Economy sector

Education, Water, Infrastructure (Transport), Infrastructure (ICT), Infrastructure (Energy), Health, Tourism, Public Safety and Security, Disaster Risk Management, Retail, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Land Administration, Design and Construction, Public Sector Local Government, Public Sector Central Government, Maritime, Environment, Agriculture, Geology and Mining, Defence