Some of the first attempts to standardize business practices came about during wartime. In world War I, shells frequently failed to detonate simply because two British armament manufactures had slightly different definitions of an inch. During World War II, Britain placed inspectors in weapons factories to determine the cause of accidental detonations. This led to a system by which potential suppliers had to detail their production processes - and ensure that workers stuck to them - before the supplier could be approved for a government contract. In 1959, the US developed its Quality Program Requirements for military procurement, and NATO followed suit in 1968. By 1987, the UK had formulated the BS9000, one of the first attempts to apply third--party standardization to a non-military manufacturing area: in this case, the electronics industry. Today's ISO9000, a global set of standards used by diverse businesses and governments, can be traced back to the BS9000. The ISO-a non-governmental organization consisting of representatives from 149 countries - has, to date, a portfolio of over 15,000 standards.
Implementation of ISO standards has not always gone smoothly. Too often, a company attempting to conform to standards has created an extra layer of bureaucracy - and all the paperwork that goes along with one - without actually improving processes. In addition, the military origins of the standardization process led to a system that was not always well-suited to businesses that were not traditional factory-floor operations. Recent ISO versions have tried to minimize the emphasis on documentation, and to stress management system effectiveness, process improvement, and customer satisfaction. Like any tool of business, however, ISO standards are used more effectively by some than by others. The difference lies in whether a set of standards is seen as a way to improve business practices or as an annoying checklist of obstacles.
In coming years, more ISO standards will apply to non-manufacturing realms such as the environment, service industries, security, information and communication, and even sociopolitical. Countries that have signed on to the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade have agreed to ISO assurance that their regulations do not amount to protectionism. International standardization also has the potential to allow developing countries a better chance at competing with businesses from richer nations, though this potential has only begun to be realized.
1. Which of the following is the most appropriate title of the passage?
A. How the ISO Became the Standard Bearer of Standards
B. Applying Military Methods to the Business World
C. The Future of the ISO
D. Problems Associated with Implementing Business Standards
E. A Brief History of Business Practice Standards
2. According to the passage, which of the following has been true of third-party standardization of the British electronics industry?
A. It has invariably led businesses to create extra layers of bureaucracy.
B. It has led to the formulation of the ISO9000.
C. It was created while Britain was at war.
D. Some of the standard practices were used by the military.
E. It was based on the Quality Program Requirements devised by the U.S..
3. The passage suggests that implementing ISO standards has led some businesses to _______.
A. make changes that have not been productive
B. create environmentally harmless manufacturing processes
C. adopt some of the same managerial practices of military operations
D. identify new methods with which to gauge customer satisfaction
E. improve their own internal standards
4. The passage suggests which of the following about the future of international standardization?
A. Developing nations will take a greater part in devising the standards
B. ISO standards will be less useful to traditional factory-floor operations
C. Security concerns will be addressed by a greater number of ISO standards
D. A greater number of businesses will use the standards to improve their practices
E. It will be used to punish countries that practice protectionism.