Beyond the 'point of no return': Constructing Irreversibility in Decision Making on the Tetra Standard in Dutch Emergency Communication

A.M. Hommels, T. Egyedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article analyzes the role of ?irreversibility? in the decision-making process for a standard for the national Dutch emergency communication network. In the late 1980s, ETSI, the European Telecommunication Standards Institute, started the development of the so-called Tetra standard. Tetra is a standard for digital radio communication and is mostly applied in emergency communication (for police, ambulance, and fire brigade). In the early 1990s, several European governments decided to replace their analogue radio equipment for emergency communication by advanced digital communication systems. The Dutch involvement in Tetra started around 1992, but it took until November 2001 before the official governmental decision to launch the national C2000 network was taken. This article argues that at that moment the ?point of no return? of the C2000 project had already passed (in the mid 1990s). We explain this using the concept of ?constructed irreversibility?. We analyze a number of core decisions and choices of the Dutch government in the C2000 project that resulted in irreversibility. We conclude by discussing the disadvantages and the advantages of irreversibility in this innovation project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-40
JournalInternational Journal of IT Standards & Standardization Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

Cite this