Communications of the Association for Information Systems


This case narrates a standard dispute between competing industrial coalitions in China and the U.S., both having an active involvement of the national governments. Specifically, the Chinese government organized the R&D of wireless local area network (WLAN) standards and tried to use them to replace the incumbent technologies controlled by international giants in the information industry. However, due to the strong objection of the foreign stakeholders in the WLAN market, China’s initiative eventually failed.

While there is ample knowledge available regarding successful experiences with technology standardization in the developed world, this case is unique because it deals with the unsuccessful experience of China. This case provides rare insights into the challenges that developing countries will meet in adopting indigenous technologies. It is useful for a discussion of how a country should organize its standardization activities.