The trend to standardization : product development in the British motor cycle industry 1896-1916
The thesis is a historical study of the first twenty years of the British motor cycle industry in terms of the development of its product. The main theoretical issue is standardization, not in its usual sense as a forma l activity aimed at the setting up of standards, but as a trend the effect of which is for products to become more and more alike across the industry as a whole. Standardization in this sense is to a large extent an unintended consequence of the wish on the part of producers to design products which operate more efficiently, which can be produced more cheaply, and which have the widest possible appeal in the marketplace; and of the preference, on the part of the majority of consumers, for products which are familiar and of known reputation and performance, as against those which are new and untried. The trend to standardization is analysed into its main components , functional efficiency, production efficiency, and marketing efficiency, and these are used as the basis of a number of propositions which make it possible to consider in more depth the development of the product during the three phases of industry development : experimental, developmental, and standardization . The more substantive chapters of the thesis are organized around three main themes, the development of the industry as a whole, and the development of the product from a technical point of view, and from a consumer point of view. The main conclusion is that the development of its product into a standard form--one on which newcomers to the industry can base their own products and which consumers can recognise as reliable and worthy of purchase-is the most critical stage in the development and consolidation of a new industry.