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Accurate measurements and design standards: consistency of design and the travel of 'facts' between heterogeneous groups

Velkar, Aashish (2007) Accurate measurements and design standards: consistency of design and the travel of 'facts' between heterogeneous groups. Working papers on the nature of evidence: how well do 'facts' travel? (18/07). Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Design standards are carriers and creators of facts, enabling facts about product value to travel between groups, and assisting in the creation of product value by establishing a reference or comparison against which product attributes are compared. However, when design standards are not consistent, facts about product value may not travel well, even when designs can be expressed or measured with a high degree of precision. Examining the evidence from British iron and steel industry in the nineteenth century, this paper demonstrates how inconsistent design standards (wire sizes) inhibited the travel of facts about the ‘true value’ of wire products. Consistency in wire sizes depended upon the desirability of certain sizes amongst user and producer groups; often they differed both within and between the relevant groups. Convergence on a common system had to be achieved through intense negotiations between the producer and user groups, with the state becoming involved as an arbitrator. Consistency was a negotiated construct; once achieved, it enabled facts about wire products to be transmitted using consistent design standards.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2007 The Author
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: T Technology > TS Manufactures
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Collections > Economists Online
Collections > How Well Do 'Facts' Travel?
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Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2009 17:22
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2020 23:05
Projects: Large-Scale Technological Change
Funders:, Economic and Social Research Council

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