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Standardization in Decentralized Economies

  • Michel Benaim
  • Emmanuelle Auriol

This paper presents a dynamic model, inspired by evolutionary game theory, of how standards and norms emerge in decentralized economies. It shows that standardization outcomes depend on adopters' attitudes to problems caused by incompatibility. If individuals display aversion to incompatibility, standardization never fails to happen eventually, but societies sometimes end up picking inferior standards. In this case, official action can be useful to quickly achieve sensible standardization. On the other hand, when individuals display tolerance or neutrality to incompatibility, there is neither path-dependency nor a lock-in problem, and regulation seems a poor alternative to laissez-faire.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.90.3.550
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 90 (2000)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 550-570

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:90:y:2000:i:3:p:550-570
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.90.3.550
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  1. Kandori, M. & Mailath, G.J., 1991. "Learning, Mutation, And Long Run Equilibria In Games," Papers 71, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - John M. Olin Program.
  2. Ellison, Glenn, 1993. "Learning, Local Interaction, and Coordination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(5), pages 1047-71, September.
  3. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "Learning in Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2222, David K. Levine.
  4. Brian Arthur, W. & Ermoliev, Yu. M. & Kaniovski, Yu. M., 1987. "Path-dependent processes and the emergence of macro-structure," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 294-303, June.
  5. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
  6. S. J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 1994. "Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 133-150, Spring.
  7. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1984. "Standardization, Compatibility and Innovation," Working papers 345, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard H, 1989. "Intertemporal Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 181-93, Fall.
  9. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1985. "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 424-40, June.
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