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Using standards enhances productivity and competitiveness – as shown by research

According to a study on the use of standards in the Nordic countries, standards benefit society by improving economic growth. Unsurprisingly, most companies consider standards important to their business.

Standards improve economic growth

Standardization is key to economic growth and a functioning and sustainable society. Furthermore, it is a guarantee of quality, and a way of earning the trust of consumers. These conclusions can be drawn from the study “The Influence of Standards on the Nordic Economies” (2017) concerning the economy in all the Nordic countries.

As a collaborative effort of experts in various industries, standards are an effective means of strengthening economy by virtue of distributing and applying knowledge. Although standards are about minor improvements, they are effective in a larger scale when widely used. Indeed, the role of standardization as a driver for productivity has been significant in all the Nordic countries.

Research shows that doubling the number of standards improved labour productivity by 10.5 percent and that standardization increases labour productivity annually by 0.7 percent on average. It can therefore be concluded that standardization is linked to up to 39 percent growth in labour productivity and 28 percent increase of GDP in the Nordic countries during the examined period 1976–2014.

However, as standards are only one part of the economy, these results should be considered to imply the maximum economic benefits of standards.

Standards strengthen customer confidence in your company and improve the quality of products and services

According to a business survey, Nordic companies find it important to follow and apply standards. Most (87%) of the companies that purchase standards consider standardization an important part of their future business plans. In addition, three out of four companies (73%) consider benefits of standards outweighing their cost.

87 %

of the companies that purchase standards consider standardization an important part of their future business plans.

Benefits of standards as experienced by companies were similar in all the countries. Standards are especially important in improving efficiency and quality and building customer confidence.

Up to 85 percent of the respondents consider standards to improve the confidence of customers in the company. In addition, according to one third of the companies, standards improve the quality of their products and services and simplify communication between the producer and customer.

Furthermore, 69 percent of exporting companies agree that standards simplify the export of products and services.

85 %

of the respondents think that standards create trust and confidence among customers.

The primary reasons for using standards were

  • facilitating market access,
  • improving product or service quality, and
  • minimising risks.

Background of the study

Conducted as a collaborative effort of a cross-Nordic project group, the study “The Influence of Standards on the Nordic Economies” analysed how increased use of standards affected economic development both at the macroeconomic and company levels.

1,179 Nordic companies that were already using standards participated in the study. They represented eight different industries. The study was conducted in 2017. It was commissioned by the Nordic standardization organisations: the Finnish Standards Association (SFS), Standards Norway (SN), the Danish Standards Foundation (DS), the Swedish Institute for Standards (SIS) and Icelandic Standards (IST).