The value of intangibles in a situation of innovation: questions raised by the case of standards

Par Anne Mione

This paper considers the intangible and collective property of a standard and its ability to promote innovation. The technical standard belongs to the intangible economy as it consists of a résumé of information. It is collective because it accounts for the shared knowhow of the stakeholders of a sector and because it results from a formal consensual process led in a Standard Development Organization. We question the value of such an intangible collective vector that is required for the development of an innovation on the market. Two case analyses exploring the new geosynthetics and non-conventional materials and technologies markets allow us to confirm the determining role of standards in the market phase of innovation. These nevertheless shed light on the difficulties involved in shaping the standard, due to differences between the different stakeholders’ representations, vocabularies and legitimacy repertoires, leading to the risk that new market development will slow down or be blocked.
JEL Codes: M


  • intangible economy
  • standards strategy
  • innovation
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