- Distribution management
Purpose – Logisticians have always viewed standards as solutions for improving operational compatibility and coordination. This paper aims to contribute to a greater understanding of how standards, upon which logistics systems are designed, developed and coordinated, interact with each other and with other resources in a logistics network for the purpose of improving efficiency and effectiveness. Design/methodology/approach – The literature review permits: defining standards as a coordination mechanism focusing on development, use and evolution of interconnected standards; pointing out the importance of standards for logistics efficiency and effectiveness; and analysis of interrelatedness referring to increasing returns, basic technology and dominant design. The empirical evidence is based on a meta-case from the automobile industry with information collected from nine case studies based on observations, documents, drafts of standards and interviews. Findings – The case study illustrates major points in prior literature and provides new propositions that enrich the theory and have important managerial implications. Main findings include a better understanding of how standards interact over time, and how they help, as well as hinder technological development in logistics networks. Being exploratory in nature, the paper concludes with theoretical propositions for further research. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the understanding of an issue is been important, but still not much addressed in prior logistics literature: the use of standards. The combining of literature from three streams of research: logistics, industrial networks and technology development provides interesting insight on which the case analysis is based and from which further research can be developed.