Corrupt countries were more likely to support the OOXML document format

Having just completed my first podcast in a while, I was looking for some additional information on the recent failure of OOXML to gain ISO approval. I commented on some of the alleged nefarious activity that had taken place, but I admit I missed this coincidence:

During the voting process the reputation of ISO as a dependable technical standardization organization was questioned. For example, in Sweden a Microsoft representative was caught offering to recompense partners for voting yes to OOXML. Also a sudden interest from countries like Ivory Coast to the OOXML issue has been found suspicious.

We studied the relation between the corruption level and voting behaviours of the countries. We found that more corrupted the country is, the more likely it was to vote for the unreserved acceptance of the OOXML standard proposal.

We used the [Transparency International’s] 2006 CPI index (Corruption Perceptions Index) as a measure of corruption. CPI index is a number between 1 and 10. A small CPI index means that the country is perceived to be very corrupted, while a large CPI index means that the country is perceived to have little corruption. Haiti has the smallest CPI index of 1.8, while the countries perceived having the least amount of corruption (Finland, Iceland, New Zealand) have a CPI index of 9.7. In barplots below the CPI index has been rounded down to the closest integer value.

ISO received a total of 87 votes, of which 70 was given either by the Secretariat country (USA), participating members (“P Member”) or observers (“O Member”); in the graph below only these 70 votes are shown. The votes are counted according to the complicated voting rules of ISO. The remaining 17 countries – most of which are perceived to be relatively corrupted (median CPI index 3.0) – mostly supported the OOXML (approval 13, approval with comments 2, abstention 2, disapproval 0).

I’ll leave whether or not this is sheer happenstance up to you, but the full EFFI article is worth a read.


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