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Standards dynamics and industrial organization in the mobile telecom sector

Eric J. Iversen (Researcher at NIFU STEP Studies of Innovation, Research, and Education in Norway, where he has worked in the field of innovation and the economics of technological change since 1994. He is also a researcher at The Australian Innovation Research Centre (AIRC), Faculty of Business, University of Tasmania. His work centers on the “framework conditions” of technological change with special focus on quantitative and qualitative analyses of standardization, IPRs, and their interrelationship. His project work has mainly catered to Norwegian government agencies, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the EU. He is on the editorial review board of the International Journal of IT Standards & Standardization Research, and is currently involved in two European Framework projects on standardization.)
Richard Tee (Researcher at the Dutch TNO research institute, unit for ICT and Policy and also works for the University of Brussels (VUB) at the centre for Studies on Media Information and Telecommunications (SMIT). His research has been mostly concerned with technological stabilization processes, particularly from the perspective of dominant designs, as well as user‐centered approaches. Currently he is involved in a multi‐year research project on broadband and mobile services of which the main goal is the creation of a business modelling framework taking into account relevant user, standardization and policy dimensions.)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Article publication date: 1 July 2006




The purpose of this mainly conceptual paper is to analyze key changes in the institutional setting for standardization and to discuss what they indicate about further developments of the mobile sector. The intention is that this conceptual analysis will complement and contextualize the analysis of Nordic players found in the other papers of this special issue.


The paper is concerned with issues of industrial organization. The paper presents a treatment of industrial dynamics in them mobile telecom sector and the changing role of standards in it. We approach the substantial changes in the mobile telecom sector, focusing on the correspondence of the changes in the standards system to overall industry dynamics. Empirical information from the Symbian case is used to illustrate the hypothesis of standardization process and of the industry at large.


The paper identifies changing patters in the organization of technological standardization which represents a microcosm of the larger reorganization of the sector. Nordic actors, whose present position owes much to success in linking capabilities to sequential mobile standards. The paper draws out implications of the limits to “intergenerational leveraging” in standards.


The major contribution of the paper is to focus on changes in the organization of the standardization process in order to discuss the industrial dynamics of an industry which is undergoing a period of rapid change. Its reference to industrial dynamics perspective allows it to link the literature on dominant design to the field of standards research.



Iversen, E.J. and Tee, R. (2006), "Standards dynamics and industrial organization in the mobile telecom sector", info, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 33-48.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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