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Peer Influence in Network Markets: An Empirical Investigation

  • Jörn H. Block
  • Philipp Köllinger

We analyze the effect of peer influence on the diffusion of an innovative network good. We argue that the adopters of a network good have an incentive to convince others to purchase the same product because their utility depends on the number of other users. This peer-effect influences individuals’ adoption decisions alongside the more familiar installed-base-effect, based on the individual’s own insight that a larger number of installed units increases his/her benefit of adopting. We test empirically which effect dominates with Instant Messaging, an innovative network good. We arrive at surprising results with far-reaching implications for research and management. The diffusion of Instant Messaging was to a large extent driven by the peer-effect, but the installed base-effect seemed to play no role. We perform our estimation with a discrete time hazard rate model that controls for unobserved heterogeneity.

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Article provided by LMU Munich School of Management in its journal Schmalenbach Business Review.

Volume (Year): 59 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 364-386

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Handle: RePEc:sbr:abstra:v:59:y:2007:i:4:p:364-386
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  1. Stanley M. Besen & Joseph Farrell, 1994. "Choosing How to Compete: Strategies and Tactics in Standardization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 117-131, Spring.
  2. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1992. "Product Introduction with Network Externalities," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 55-83, March.
  3. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
  4. 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.
  5. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1986. "Technology Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 822-41, August.
  6. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Easy Estimation Methods for Discrete-Time Duration Models," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 129-38, February.
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