Binary trading relations and the limits of EDI standards: the Procrustean bed of standards
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This paper provides a critical examination of electronic data interchange (EDI) standards and their application in different types of trading relationships. It argues that EDI standards are not directly comparable to more stable sets of technical standards in that they are dynamically tested and negotiated in use with each trading exchange. It takes the position that EDI standards are an emergent language form and must mean different things at the institutional and local levels. Using the lens of emergent linguistic analysis it shows how the institutional and local levels must always be distinct and yet can coexist. EDI standards can never represent the creation of an ‘Esperanto of institutional communication’. Instead we believe that standards must be developed such that they support and accommodate general basic grammatical forms that can be customised to individual needs. The analysis is supported by a set of exemplary cases.
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