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Engineering Rules: Global Standard Setting since 1880

by JoAnne Yates and Craig N Murphy Johns Hopkins University Press
Pub Date:
06/2019
ISBN:
9781421428895
Format:
Hbk 440 pages
Price:
AU$125.00 NZ$127.83
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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Private, voluntary standards shape almost everything we use, from screw threads to shipping containers to e-readers. They have been critical to every major change in the world economy for more than a century, including the rise of global manufacturing and the ubiquity of the Internet. In Engineering Rules, JoAnne Yates and Craig Murphy trace the standard-setting system's evolution through time, revealing a process with an astonishingly pervasive, if rarely noticed, impact on all of our lives.

Standard setting was established in the 1880s, when engineers aimed to prove their status as professionals by creating useful standards that would be widely adopted by manufacturers while satisfying corporate customers. Yates and Murphy explain how these engineers' processes provided a timely way to set desirable standards that would have taken much longer to emerge from the market and that governments were rarely willing to set. By the 1920s, the standardizers began to think of themselves as critical to global prosperity and world peace. After World War II, standardizers transcended Cold War divisions to create standards that made the global economy possible. Finally, Yates and Murphy reveal how, since 1990, a new generation of standardizers has focused on supporting the Internet and Web while applying the same standard-setting process to regulate the potential social and environmental harms of the increasingly global economy.

Drawing on archival materials from three continents, including newly uncovered documents contributed by key standard setters, interviews, and direct observation of recent Web-related standard setting, Yates and Murphy describe the positive ideals that sparked the standardization movement, the ways its leaders tried to realize those ideals, and the challenges the movement faces today. An in-depth history of the engineers and organizations that developed and operate the vast yet inconspicuous global infrastructure of private, consensus-based standard setting, Engineering Rules is a riveting global history of the people, processes, and organizations that created and maintain this nearly invisible infrastructure of today's economy, which is just as important as the state or the global market.

Acknowledgments
Acronyms
Introduction
Part I. The First Wave
1. Engineering Professionalization and Private Standard Setting for Industry before 1900
2. Organizing Private Standard Setting within and across Borders, 1900 to World War I
3. A Community and a Movement, World War I to the Great Depression
Part II. The Second Wave
4. Decline and Revival of the Movement, the 1930s to the 1950s
5. Standards for a Global Market, the 1960s to the 1980s
6. US Participation in International RFI/EMC Standardization, World War II to the 1980s
Part III. The Third Wave
7. Computer Networking Ushers in a New Era in Standard Setting, 1980s to 2000s
8. Development of the W3C WebCrypto API Standard, 2012 to 2017
9. Voluntary Standards for Quality Management and Social Responsibility since the 1980s
Conclusion
Essay on Primary Sources
Notes
Index

"A deeply researched and well-crafted examination of one of the key invisible infrastructures of the modern world: private consensus-based industrial standards. Aptly combining their respective expertise, the authors have written an impressive and highly detailed treatment of the emergence of standards-setting bodies, their networks, and their legion of activities. Standards geeks, of which there are thousands, will want to read this book—the first volume of its kind."


 


— Thomas J. Misa, University of Minnesota, coauthor of FastLane: Managing Science in the Internet World


"Too many of us who labor in the vineyards of global governance spend our time on visible, formal international organizations. Yates and Murphy do not. Drawing on a century and a half of archives and anecdotes, they demonstrate the crucial impact of private and informal standard-setting on our daily lives. This fascinating tale is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the major changes in the global economy."


 


— Thomas G. Weiss, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, coeditor of International Organization and Global Governance
JoAnne Yates, Deputy Dean and Distinguished Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, is the author of Control Through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management, also published by Johns Hopkins.