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News > Current Stories > Researcher Profile: Ivana Mijatovic

Researcher Profile: Ivana Mijatovic

Ivana Mijatovic is one of the most prolific researchers and teachers of standardization...
Professor Ivana Mijatovic
Professor Ivana Mijatovic

Welcome to the first in our series of research profiles! Here we will introduce some of the most prominent researchers in standards and standardization. We we are lucky to benefit from their work and to have them as part of our community. We hope this series will introduce you to some research you may find interesting, and some perspectives from researchers that we know you'll enjoy. Professor Ivana Mijatovic is the first in our series - we hope you enjoy it!

 

Ivana Mijatovic is a Full Professor at the Faculty of Organizational Sciences, University of Belgrade. She teaches standardization and quality management and has done ground-breaking work in education about standards at university level. Her research work explores the use of standards by businesses and the role of standards in society. She was also Chair from Europe region of the The International Cooperation for Education about Standardization (ICES) and the vice president of the European Academy for Standardisation.

 

A few of Professor Mijatovic’s publications that we enjoyed:

Teaching Standardization to Generation Z-Learning Outcomes Define Teaching Methods, included in Sustainable Development – Knowledge and Education about standardization

The Acquiring of the Knowledge about Standards in the Digital Era

The factors affecting the environmental practices of companies: The case of Serbia

Diffusion vs. Knowledge Protection When Participating in ICT Standardization

 

What have been the most challenging topics you have worked on in your work on standards/standardization research? 

The biggest challenge in standards research is finding good data. Based on my experience a lot of the data available for standards research is low quality. To overcome this, we sometimes collect our own data – but of course, this is time-consuming and difficult. The world of standards development is still insufficiently transparent. What this means is that research topics in standards are often determined by the availability of data. It can be relatively easy to examine the effectiveness of the most popular generic standards like ISO 9001 or ISO 14001, because a lot of data is available on the use of these standards. But less ‘popular’ standards can go unexamined, because the data simply isn’t available. In these circumstances, many of the benefits that could result from standardization research are lacking.

What is your opinion on how we can find a good balance between knowledge protection and diffusion in development of technology standards? 

If we could solve this question, the world would be a happy place! Generalization in this context is a problem because every specific case in developing technology standards might be different. I think the important thing is to look at the competing interests – though not in negative context at all. Interests are the fundamental driving force in standards development – who needs a standard, who is participating in standards development and why? The main interest of the users of the standards is to have good standards at their disposal, and not a huge number of separate standards in which the solutions are divided into a large number of small and sometimes insignificant parts. People often think there’s influence from private sector firms in standardization, and there is, but we shouldn’t overlook political influence also. We need to work toward a balance in terms of who is represented in standards development but not to the detriment of technological development needed in industries.  

How has your approach to teaching standards in university courses developed over time? 

In the academic context, standardization is a young field and should be taught in modern ways. The ex cathedra and passive didactic approach doesn’t work well with this subject matter. Based on my experience of teaching standardization in business school, I have learned the importance of teaching through the case studies. Students want to be engaged on topics they are already familiar with; they want to hear how standards interact with the other things they’re learning about. As an example, students interested in (global) trade will generally respond well to a discussion of the role of standards in the export of products or standards in supply chains. We need to show students how standards interact with other ‘real world’ topics.

There is a perception that students aren’t interested in standards, but we find that the level of student interest is actually very high, if the topic is taught well and meaningfully.

How do you think standards can be better integrated in university curricula?

Universities respond to market demands, if the market is looking for staff with knowledge and skills in the field of standardization then universities will recognize it. However, it is often forgotten that the connections of universities with the labor market are often not the best. Discussions, about whether standardization is necessary or not, mostly end up being in favor of education about standardization. In what form and how much depends on the type of study and program.

In order for the contents from standardization to be better integrated into the curricula in higher education, it is necessary to have interested and competent teachers. One way is to involve university teachers in research on standardization. However, a lot of professors who are very knowledgeable about standardization don’t teach it. In fact, when we looked at this within Serbian academics and researchers, we found that only 6% of academics who are on technical committees are teaching their students about standards. One of the big challenges is that it’s simply difficult to introduce any new content in most universities. As long as you don’t have ‘top down’ imposition of content, one has to convince academic colleagues that a new topic is valuable and should be prioritized.

I think that cooperation and profile-building are important. We were glad to host the 2019 World Standards Cooperation Academic Day at the University of Belgrade, and the success of this event helped me to get support for a course on standardization. Initiatives that increase the visibility of standards education and help us to show the value of it are helpful.

Cooperation among university teachers and academics involved in standardization research and education, so we can learn from one another, is of high importance. Beyond that, it’s important to link standards education to broader education topics. I teach standards in the context of business and global markets, which many students are interested in – we have to link it to a range of other topics to show its relevance.

 

We are grateful to Professor Mijatovic for sharing her insights with us. What did you find most interesting about her perspectives? 

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