This paper addresses the role of power and politics in setting standards. It examines the interaction of external contingencies, powerful agents, resources, meaning, and membership of relevant social and institutional groupings in generating successful political outcomes. To study these interactions, the paper adopts the circuits of power, a theoretical framework taken from the social sciences, and applies it to understanding the creation and development of the first standard in information security management. An informal group of UK security chiefs sparked off a process which led first to BS7799, the British standard, and later to ISO 17799, the international standard. The case study portrays how the institutionalization of this ad hoc development process results from the interactions of power among the stakeholders involved. The case study also shows how the different interests and objectives of the stakeholders were influenced by exogenous contingencies and institutional forces. The paper discusses theoretical and practical implications for the future development of such standards.