The Influence of Standards on the Nordic Economies

A new study (2018) shows that standards increase economic growth and help companies access foreign markets. The study conducted in the Nordic countries shows that standards are associated with 28 percent of GDP growth.

Companies benefit from standards the most by getting access to new foreign markets and ensuring the quality of their products. A vast majority of the respondents, 87 percent, consider that standardisation plays a key role in their future business plans.

Standardisation is a key to a well-functioning, economically prospering and sustainable society. It is also a way to increase economic growth. These conclusions can be made from the results of the new study “The Influence of Standards on the Nordic Economies”. 

The study was made in the five Nordic countries, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. In total 1,179 Nordic companies in different industries with prior experience from the use of standards took part of the study. 

One of the most important findings of the study was that standardisation is associated with 28 percent of GDP growth in the Nordic countries between 1976–2014. The value of standards derives mainly from increased productivity and efficiency. The study shows, for example, that doubling the stock of standards in an economy is associated with an increase of 10.5 percent in labour productivity. On average, standardisation is associated with an annual increase in labour productivity of 0.7 percent per year.

Read a summary of the study

“The results of this study show that standards have a significant role in all Nordic countries. The efficiency and economic gains that companies get from standardisation reflect highly to the welfare of each country. When companies are prospering and effective the customers – the citizens – get the best quality in products and a well-functioning society. Standards can also guide companies to operate more ecologically and with solid processes”, says Thomas Idermark, CEO at Swedish Standards Institute. 

Standards open new markets and help make new business plans

The business survey reveals that following and applying standards is an important part of Nordic companies. The most important reason for companies to use standards is to improve market access (34 percent of respondents), improve product/service quality (32 percent of respondents) and manage risks (26 percent of respondents). Companies experience similar benefits of standards independently of which country they operate from. 

Standardisation also plays an important role when companies make their future business plans, state a large majority (87 percent) of the respondent companies. Standards are emphasized as a good means to follow technical development. The result is robust across sectors, although regarded as particularly important by companies operating within seafood and fisheries (73 percent), ICT (67 percent) and trade (65 percent).

“As technological development continues, yielding new and innovative products and solutions, there will be need for more standardisation to coordinate the market. Especially ICT and Healthcare sectors are growing in high speed and companies who take part in creating new standards will be in a leading position in their sectors”, Jacob Mehus, CEO at Standard Norway, comments. 

The study concludes that participating in the standardisation work is a well appreciated (82 percent of the respondents) way to influence the future of one’s field. This result is especially interesting to startups and companies bringing new innovations to market. 

Download the study 

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