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The illusory nature of standards: the case of standards for organic agriculture

Mai S. Linneberg (Department of Management, DoGE, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the implications of the paradoxical situation in which standard setters are placed when standardising human practice. Contrary to standards, human practices are ambiguous, heterogeneous, and highly context dependent; in contrast, standards are unambiguous and apply across cases.


The paper is primarily theoretical and its analysis is based on conceptual content and extent analysis. For the purpose of illustration, the paper draws on the example of organic agricultural standards.


The author shows how illusion creation is innate in the practice of standardisation and therefore the risk of creating untrustworthy standards is prevalent for standard setters.


The paper provides a new understanding of standards and demonstrates the need to research standardization processes in depth and bring in a much more critical perspective to this prevalent but largely invisible practice.



Linneberg, M.S. (2011), "The illusory nature of standards: the case of standards for organic agriculture", Society and Business Review, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 249-259.



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