Date of Conferral
The world relies heavily on industrial voluntary consensus standards to serve public interests through the development of uniform and harmonized social and economic procedures. The research problem focused on generating suggestions for improving collaborative practices between U.S.-based accredited and unaccredited standards development organizations that create voluntary consensus standards. The research centered on assessing the level of consensus among experts regarding what actions may be conducive to improving collaborative practices through the lenses of stakeholder and institutional theory. This modified 3-round qualitative Delphi study began with open-ended questions in Round 1 and progressed towards consensus in Rounds 2 and 3 using close-ended questions. The results encompassed consensus on 12 actions for preserving the historically deliberative and inclusive democratic U.S. voluntary consensus standards process spanning 6 categories: competition, deregulation, oversight, organizational structure, leadership training, and market-driven. The most notable of the 12 actions was an increase in internal and external liaison functions between standards development organizations and more participation on the part of industry and trade groups. This was the 1st study to apply the construct of consensus to the generation of actions focused on reducing the rise of an exclusive and nondemocratic voluntary consensus standards process and preserving a historically deliberative and inclusive democratic process. Incorporating the suggestions identified in this study may lead to positive social change by improving collaborative practices between standards development organizations and preserving the legitimacy of this important social function.