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Investigating IT Standardization Process through the lens of

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Karthikeyan Umapathy

on 1 November 2016

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Transcript of Investigating IT Standardization Process through the lens of

Due to openness, consensus-orientation, and voluntary contributions
Researchers have argued that standardization processes are similar to Habermasian view of rational discourse described in the Theory of Communicative Action
Research Findings
Consortium like W3C are aware of design of committee problems and have placed safeguards to ensure their process is open but not abused
W3C has issued a process document that provides guidelines to regulate processes followed to develop standards
Consortium-based Standards Development Organizations
Essentially designed and developed in series of meetings held by large group of people
Standards are developed within Working Group meetings
Standards precede Technology
Anticipatory Standards
Web has changed our everyday activities and life.
Impacts of Web Standards
Investigating IT Standardization Process through the lens of Theory of Communicative Action
There are several entities that make web work including Internet & Servers, Web Sites & Applications, and
Web Standards
Standardization is one of the hallmarks of an industrial society
Interchangeable parts revolutionized assembly line, and product design and manufacturing
The World Wide Web would not be same without open web standards.
Karthikeyan Umapathy
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, FL

Sandeep Purao
Bentley University
Waltham, MA

John W.Bagby
Penn State University
State College, PA

Standards Paradox
Our formal understanding on how standards are developed is surprisingly poor (Particularly for ICT standards)

Processes followed often lead to development of comprised standard that may not be interoperable

Most academic institutions do not offer any course work on the standardization subject
Standards containing substantial design components developed before widespread acceptance of the technology
These standards are viewed as potential “change agents” that could pave the way for the industry
E.g.: HTML and SOAP

Web standards are anticipatory standards developed for specific market need by consortium-based SDOs like W3C and OASIS
Consortium members develop technology products implementing the standard specification
W3C develops HTML specification
Vendors develop Browser software that supports HTML specifications
We create web pages following HTML specs
Anyone can use Browsers to view Web pages
Process followed is similar to "Design by Committee"
We all know the pains and pitfalls of design by committee
Boston road sign designed by committee of local district engineers, signage engineer, design consultant, and Federal Highway Administration representatives
Consortium provide a forum for interested parties to share their innovations and develop mutually agreed standards.
Typically, those who participate in the standardization process are consortium members who may exhibit greater tendency to be like minded, willingness to cooperate, and wish for standard to be created.
In order to develop standards, W3C aims to ensure the process is

so that participant can take part freely
voluntary contributions
from participants
on critical decisions made
Objective of this research is to
Investigate IT standardization process from the Theory of Communicative Action perspective and find evidence of social actions within an actual standardization process.
Research Objective
Theory of Communicative Action
According to Habermas
a society maintains itself through socially coordinated activities of its members and that this coordination is established through communication aimed at reaching consensus.
Theory of communication action provides a theoretical framework that can be used for analyzing processes that are consensus oriented and involve open participation and information sharing through dialogue as opposed to exercising power of authority
Habermas has developed social action categories based on human predispositions of
striving to succeed based on available resources and power (success-orientation),
reaching mutual understanding through coordination of actions with partners (consensus-orientation)
Research Methodology
Case Study
(Yin 2003)
Case study is a qualitative research methodology.

Case study allows a researcher to empirically investigate a phenomenon within its real-life context, particularly when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident.
We studied processes followed to develop
Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) 1.2
SOAP defines an XML-based framework for exchanging structured information over a variety of Internet transportation protocols.
One of the core web service standards
SOAP 1.2 Development Timeline
Content Analysis
Content analysis technique was used to examine the standardization process.

Technique to examine social communication artifacts (books, documents, laws, meeting transcripts, and websites) to make inferences by objectively and systematically identifying special categories of messages.

Requires a researcher to read a document through multiple passes to identify constructs of interest (for e.g., activities and roles within standardization process).

Central element of content analysis is using multiple human readers and establishing explicit rules and schemes (i.e., how to identify text fragments and what category to assign them) for identifying constructs of interest.

Three researchers were involved in the content analysis process.
Inter-coder reliability after three iterationz: 77% (Agreed), 81% (Agreed and negotiated)
Sample Rules and Schemes
Content analysis was performed using Atlas.Ti software.
Empirical analysis all of 120 meeting transcripts that archived SOAP processes revealed
95 purposeful activities
performed by participants.
4760 text fragments were annotated
Activities emerged from content analysis of SOAP standard were mapped to
five social actions
described in the theory of communicative action.
Mapping was performed based on the meaning assigned to activities inferred during content analysis and description of the social actions provided in the theory of communicative action.
Analysis indicates that of the activities performed by participants
60% of activities are consensus oriented
(normatively regulated, dramaturgical, and communicative actions)
Rest are success oriented activities
(instrumental and strategic actions)
Consensus-oriented engagements
Participants achieve consensus by conducting lenghty discussions on technical issues as well as about the process itself
Expressing interests, concerns, and critiquing proposed solutions is common occurence in discussions
When unanimous decision is not reached, demostratic process is used to select a design option among alternatives
Success-oriented engagements
Participants contributes design options or assessing proposed solutions
Rely on their technical capabilities and research investments of their organizations
First paper providing empirical evidence of occurrence of Habermasian view of social actions in the anticipatory standardization process setting
Study limitations & Future Work
1 standard from 1 SDO. We need to study more standards from different SDOs
Inferred activities need to be analyzed to examine how argumentative rational discourses are manifested within the standardization process
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