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Does First Last: The Existence and Extent of First Mover Advantages on Spatial Networks


  • David Levinson
  • Feng Xie

    () (Nexus (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems) Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota)


This paper examines the nature of first mover advantages on spatially-differentiated surface transportation networks. The literature on first mover advantages identifies a number of sources that explain their existence. However whether those sources exist on spatial networks, and how they play out with true capital immobility have been unanswered questions. By examining empirical examples including commuter rail and the Underground in London and roads in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, first mover advantages were observed in rail stations but not in the road network. A simulation model was then constructed to replicate the growth of surface transportation networks incorporating idealized deployment decisions and to test whether the first network elements (links, nodes) remain strongest (or even strong) into the future. Simulation experiments were conducted and Spearman rank correlation tests revealed that first mover advantages exist in both nodes and links and become increasingly prominent as the network evolves due to the accumulated advantage of earlier established network elements. Simulation results also disclosed that network growth with a higher concentration of initial land uses results in stronger first mover advantages, and that the extent may vary as the topological attributes of the network change over time. The sensitivity of simulation results on model parameters are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • David Levinson & Feng Xie, 2007. "Does First Last: The Existence and Extent of First Mover Advantages on Spatial Networks," Working Papers 000052, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:doesfirstlast

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fujita , Masahisa & Krugman, Paul, 2004. "The new economic geography: Past, present and the future," INVESTIGACIONES REGIONALES - Journal of REGIONAL RESEARCH, AsociaciĆ³n EspaƱola de Ciencia Regional, issue 4, pages 177-206.
    2. David Levinson & Bhanu Yerra, 2006. "Self-Organization of Surface Transportation Networks," Transportation Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(2), pages 179-188, May.
    3. Feng Xie & David Levinson, 2009. "Jurisdictional Control and Network Growth," Networks and Spatial Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 459-483, September.
    4. Bhanu Yerra & David Levinson, 2005. "The emergence of hierarchy in transportation networks," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 39(3), pages 541-553, September.
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    6. Feng Xie & David Levinson, 2009. "Governance choice on a serial network," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 141(1), pages 189-212, October.
    7. Alex Anas, 2004. "Vanishing cities: what does the new economic geography imply about the efficiency of urbanization?," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 181-199, April.
    8. Larry J. Leblanc, 1975. "An Algorithm for the Discrete Network Design Problem," Transportation Science, INFORMS, vol. 9(3), pages 183-199, August.
    9. Feng Xie & David Levinson, 2007. "The Weakest Link: A Model of the Decline of Surface Transportation Networks," Working Papers 200803, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
    10. Levinson, David & El-Geneidy, Ahmed, 2009. "The minimum circuity frontier and the journey to work," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 732-738, November.
    11. Paul Krugman, 1992. "Geography and Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262610868, March.
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    14. Mueller, Dennis C., 1997. "First-mover advantages and path dependence," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 827-850, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Levinson, David, 2011. "The Coevolution of Transport and Land Use: An Introduction to the Special Issue and an Outline of a Research Agenda," The Journal of Transport and Land Use, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota, vol. 4(2), pages 1-3.
    2. C. Jacobs-Crisioni & C. C. Koopmans, 2016. "Transport link scanner: simulating geographic transport network expansion through individual investments," Journal of Geographical Systems, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 265-301, July.
    3. Aura Reggiani, 2012. "Accessibility, connectivity and resilience in complex networks," Chapters,in: Accessibility Analysis and Transport Planning, chapter 2, pages 15-36 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    First mover advantage; transport; land use; London Underground; London railways; network growth; induced demand; induced supply;

    JEL classification:

    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning
    • R48 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government Pricing and Policy
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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