According to traditional wisdom, latecomer countries improve their technological capabilities in reverse of the product cycle, that is from mature towards new technologies. However, improvement of standards capabilities in this process has not been revealed clearly. This paper confirms similar, patterns for improving formal standards capabilities as for the technological capabilities but records some possible differences in the rate of catch-up when latecomers approach the technology frontier: a forward moving position where technology leaders (typically advanced countries) develop or conceptualize new technologies before being; turned into products or systems. A number of case studies of South Korean ICT systems reveal that transition to the technological frontier is increasingly related to how, they target and carry out formal standardization. The common elements driving differences in rates of successful catch-up for ICT systems standards are not only limited tc generic standards capabilities, but also rely on characteristics of technology trajectories, national strategic focus, and organizing for standardization.(3) This implies that a nation should not be discouraged by slow progress in standards-setting during earlier stages. Once a minimum level of capabilities is achieved, a nation pro-active in standards from the beginning may attain higher rates of catch-up near the technology frontier. (c) 2011 Elsetier Ltd. All rights reserved.