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Researchers’ participation in standardisation: a case study from a public research institute in Germany


In this paper we examine public sector researchers’ participation in standardisation bodies. Whereas previous research emphasized on patents and publications as outputs of research activities, we also consider standardisation as another activity of researchers. The latter has not been adequately taken into account. Assuming that publishing and patenting activities have an influence on researchers’ involvement in standardisation we seek evidence based on objective publishing, patenting and standardisation data. Based on individual data of more than 600 researchers from the BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing in Germany, we perform multivariate regression analyses to determine the characteristics that influence researchers’ participation in standardisation at different levels. The estimation results show a negative relationship between high quality scientific publications productivity and participation in standardisation committees and a positive relationship between technical and industry-oriented publications productivity and standardisation activities. Patenting and standardisation activities appear to be contradictory only in a few model specifications. Academic qualifications of the researchers have a positive and statistically significant impact on the probability of participating in standardisation committees. Our findings reveal important insights for analysing researchers’ activities in the future, but also for the management of research institutes and for policy makers.

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Fig. 1


  1. According to EU-Regulation No 1025/2012 standard means a technical specification, adopted by a recognised standardisation body, for repeated or continuous application, with which compliance is not compulsory. CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation, publishes the following definition:

    A standard is a technical document designed to be used as a rule, guideline or definition. It is a consensus-built, repeatable way of doing something. Standards are created by bringing together all interested parties such as manufacturers, consumers and regulators of a particular material, product, process or service. All parties benefit from standardisation through increased product safety and quality as well as lower transaction costs and prices. (

  2. According to ISO/IEC Guide 2.2004 standardisation is an “activity of establishing, with regard to actual or potential problems, provisions for common and repeated use, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context”. One important benefit of standardisation is the “facilitation of technological cooperation”.

  3. ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission, CEN (European Committee for Standardisation, CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation), DIN (German Institute for Standardisation, DKE (German Electrotechnical Commission in DIN and VDE), ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials).


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Correspondence to Knut Blind.



Table 4 Correlation matrix

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Zi, A., Blind, K. Researchers’ participation in standardisation: a case study from a public research institute in Germany. J Technol Transf 40, 346–360 (2015).

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  • Standardisation
  • Knowledge and technology transfer
  • Research productivity
  • Scientific publications
  • Patent applications

JEL Classification

  • I23
  • L15
  • L24
  • O34