ISO: The International Organization for Standardization Thesis

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ISO: The International Organization for Standardization

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world's largest developer of standards. By developing technical standards and promoting their widespread adoption, the ISO benefits the global economy and society at large. By raising levels of quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability of manufactured goods, it helps businesses to compete in a wider range of markets and provides consumers with a greater choice of goods at competitive prices. It also helps the quality of life on our planet by raising the environmental and manufacturing standards. In this research paper about the ISO, the following topics are covered: What are the Hallmarks of the ISO brand? Description of the ISO Structure, the ISO Code of Ethics, and the ISO Strategic Plan 2005-2010; Who is responsible for ISO standards development and how it is accomplished? Brief descriptions of ISO 10014, 14025, 14040, 14044, 9000, 14000, and 1400 and why are they important? And in conclusion: future impact of the ISO standards for the American business community.

What are the Hallmarks of the ISO Brand?

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Equal Footing: ISO's activities are based on the democratic principle of equal footing. Each member country of the ISO, regardless of its size or strength of its economy, has one vote and equal influence on the direction of ISO's strategic plans. Every ISO member is provided the right to suggest the development of any standard which it considers to be important for its economy ("Overview of the ISO System" 2008)

ISO Standards are Voluntary: ISO is a non-governmental organization and has no legal authority to enforce the implementation of its standards. The ISO standards are adopted voluntarily by the member countries as part of their regulatory or legislative framework although, at times, certain ISO standards (e.g. ISO 9000 -- the standard for quality management systems) may become a 'market requirement' due to their widespread adoption (Ibid.)

ISO Standards are Market-driven: ISO develops only those standards for which there is a market requirement.

TOPIC: Thesis on ISO: The International Organization for Standardization ISO Assignment

Applicability by Consensus: Since the ISO standards are developed by consensus and in response to market demand, they command widespread applicability. Consensus is further reinforced by a mandatory review of the ISO standards at least every five years in which it is decided (again, by consensus) whether these should be maintained, updated or withdrawn.

Worldwide Compatibility: ISO standards are essentially technical agreements which provide the framework for compatible technology worldwide. Such a major operation is carried out internationally by deploying approximately 3,000 ISO technical groups in which about 50,000 experts are engaged annually (Ibid.).

The ISO Structure

The ISO structure is headed by a "General Assembly" which is the ultimate policy- making body while most of its governance functions are performed by the Council in accordance with the policy laid down by the General Assembly.

The General Assembly constitutes an annual meeting of the 'Principal Officers' and delegates nominated by the 'member bodies' (full members) of the ISO. Correspondent and subscriber members may also attend the meeting as observers but do not have the right to vote. The 'Principal Officers' include the President, the Vice President (policy), the Vice President (technical management), the Treasurer, and the Secretary-General. The General Assembly reviews the ISO annual report, the Strategic Plan, and the Treasurer's annual financial status report and takes policy decisions. ("Governance and Operations" 2008)

The Council meets biannually to implement the decisions of the General Assembly. Its membership is rotated to ensure representation of all ISO members. A number of policy development committees work under the Council to provide strategic guidance for the standards' development work. These include CASCO (the committee for conformity assessment); COPOLCO (consumer policy), and DEVCO (developing country matters).

The Council is also assisted by the Technical Management Board (TMB) which is responsible for the management of the technical work. Council Standing Committees, act as advisory bodies on strategy and finance to the Council.

The ISO Central Secretariat, located in Geneva is headed by a secretary General Secretary who also reports to the Council. It provides administrative and technical support to the ISO members, and coordinates the decentralized standards' development program, besides being responsible for ISO publications. (Ibid.)

ISO Code of Ethics

The voluntary nature of ISO's operations makes it imperative that the organization and its members should conduct their activities in an ethical and transparent manner in order to command respect. Hence the ISO parties are expected to follow a Code of Ethics, which calls for:

Developing globally relevant standards in a fair, responsive, and efficient manner by taking into account all relevant interests at the national level and ensuring the participation of all stake-holders such as the consumers, civil society, SMEs and public authorities in the process.

Promoting the implementation of International Standards by reducing barriers to trade created by technical regulations and contributing to development of standards and guides for conformity assessment.

Monitoring ISO's integrity and protecting ISO's image by the ISO members by accepting to contribute their fair share towards the cost of maintaining the organization's infrastructure and preventing unauthorized sales of ISO copyrighted material.

The ISO parties shall help the members from developing countries to improve their capacity and participation in international standardization. ("ISO Code of Ethics," 2004)

ISO Strategic Plan 2005-2010

The ISO Strategic Plan 2005-2010 was adopted unanimously by the ISO General Assembly in September 2004. It outlines the global vision of achieving "one standard, one test and one conformity standard procedure accepted everywhere" puts forward the following seven objectives: ("ISO Strategic Plan 2005-2010" 2004)

Developing a consistent and multi-sector collection of globally relevant International Standards. In order to achieve the object, the Plan calls for increasing the effectiveness of ISO procedures for identifying market needs, optimizing the structure of ISO's technical bodies, promoting the global relevance of ISO's policies, and reviewing ISO's language policy in order to increase the quality and propagation of its publications.

Ensuring the Involvement of Stakeholders. Facilitate the involvement of the private sector, public sector authorities, and consumer organizations at the national level; develop mechanisms for capturing feedback of industries; develop training material on voluntary standardization for teachers, students, and ISO member staff; disseminating information about the economic and social benefits of voluntary standardization to political and economic leaders, users of standards, and the general public.

Raising the Awareness and Capacity of developing countries. To achieve this objective, the ISO intends to promote new membership among developing countries; identify need, allocate funds and encourage exchange of experience among ISO members through regional and sub-regional co-operation; enable developing countries to better identify priority sectors that would benefit the most from adopting international standards.

Being open to partnerships for the efficient development of International Standards. To actively seek cooperation and partnerships with other international agencies also involved in promoting standardization.

Promoting the use of voluntary standards as an alternative to technical regulations. The ISO proposes to seek more proactive relations with Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGO) and develop material encouraging the incorporation of standards in regulations.

Being the recognized provider of International Standards. Strive to seek recognition of ISO standards by a wide spectrum of organizations, regulators, and agencies. To monitor the reputation of ISO's name and deter its vilification.

Development of a coherent and complete range of deliverables. Clarify and simplify deliverables; develop alternate business models for fast-growing technologies.

Who is Responsible for Developing ISO Standards?

Technical committees comprising of experts from the industrial, technical and business sectors are mainly responsible for developing ISO Standards. Sometimes, these committees are also assisted by other experts from government agencies, academic institutes, consumer associations etc. National delegations, chosen by the ISO national member institute for each country, participate in the deliberations for developing ISO Standards with consensus. Such national delegations are expected to incorporate the consolidated view of all stakeholders from their respective country so that the final decision about a standard represents the broader possible opinion. ("Overview of the ISO System" 2008)

How Such Standards are Developed?

The national delegations of experts, as part of a technical committee, meet to discuss, debate, and argue a proposed standard until they reach consensus on a draft agreement. The draft is then circulated to all the ISO member countries for comment and balloting. Some countries, which have public review procedures in place, make the draft standards available to the public. The feedback is incorporated by the technical committee in the document, which is again circulated to all ISO members as a final draft for voting. If approved by the members through a vote, the document is published as an International Standard. (Ibid)

Brief descriptions of Certain Specific ISOs and why are they important?

ISO 10014: ISO 10014 provides guidelines for the top management of organizations for getting financial and economic benefits by the application of the ISO 9000 quality management principles. As the standard only contains guidelines and recommendations, it is not intended for certification, regulatory or contractual use.

ISO 14025: ISO 14025 provides quantified information about products including the extent of their impact on biodiversity, human health and the environment. The ISO benefits business… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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