In modern business, standards are too important to be ignored. But what is the rationale for active engagement in long and costly standardization processes when most of those standards will be openly available for a much lower price once they are finalized? What are the strategic motives for engaging in such processes? And even when the motives are clear, how is corporate standardization managed, both inside and outside of the organization? Prior standardization and strategic management literatures have not explored these inquiries, leading to a limited understanding of corporate standardization management and its drivers, complexities, and potential.
An in-depth comparative case study of two heavy-truck manufacturers, Scania AB and Volvo Group, provides insights into organizations’ varied choices, rationales and desired outcomes in regard to corporate standardization management. Depending on the organizations’ corporate strategies and particular needs, different standardization approaches may serve them most effectively. The findings from this qualitative study provide empirical evidence for at least two standardization approaches emerging in the context of voluntary consensus-driven standardization settings, namely the assertive approach and the vigilant one. The choice of standardization approach should comprise a deliberate and informed managerial decision, while the findings indicate that active engagement in standardization work could function as an effective way for managing organizations’ resource dependence and environmental uncertainties and hence shall be catalogued as such, advancing Resource Dependence theory.
Finally, this study highlights corporate standardization management from a co-opetitive angle, which to some degree appears to resolve inter-organizational tensions within standardization settings, by demonstrating the possibilities of “win-win strategies”. In other words, this thesis manifests the theoretical relevance of co-opetitive stances in the contemporary, increasingly complex business environments, where old-school competitive viewpoints might prove insufficient for success or even survival.