A longitudinal study of the diffusion of the ISO/IEC information resource dictionary system standard (IRDS.)
The IRDS standard is an international standard produced by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). In this work the process for producing standards in formal standards organisations, for example the ISO, and in more informal bodies, for example the Object Management Group (OMG), is examined. This thesis examines previous models and classifications of standards. The previous models and classifications are then combined to produce a new classification. The IRDS standard is then placed in a class in the new model as a reference anticipatory standard. Anticipatory standards are standards which are developed ahead of the technology in order to attempt to guide the market. The diffusion of the IRDS is traced over a period of eleven years. The economic conditions which affect the diffusion of standards are examined, particularly the economic conditions which prevail in compatibility markets such as the IT and ICT markets. Additionally the consequences of the introduction of gateway or converter devices into a market where a standard has not yet been established is examined. The IRDS standard did not have an installed base and this hindered its diffusion. The thesis concludes that the IRDS standard was overtaken by new developments such as object oriented technologies and middleware. This was partly because of the slow development process of developing standards in traditional organisations which operate on a consensus basis and partly because the IRDS standard did not have an installed base. Also the rise and proliferation of middleware products resulted in exchange mechanisms becoming dominant rather than repository solutions. The research method used in this work is a longitudinal study of the development and diffusion of the ISO/EEC IRDS standard. The research is regarded as a single case study and follows the interpretative epistemological point of view.