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Indirect Network Effects, Trade Liberalization, and Excess Standardization


  • Iwasa, Kazumichi
  • Kikuchi, Toru


Indirect network effects exist when the utility of consumers is increasing in the variety of complementary software products available for use with an electronic hardware device. In this study, we examine how trade liberalization affects production structure in the presence of indirect network effects. For these purposes we construct a simple two-country model of trade with two incompatible hardware technologies. It is shown that, given that both types of hardware exist before trade liberalization, liberalization may reduce the variety of hardware technology via intensified network effects. It is also shown that, contrary to the findings of previous studies, some consumers may become worse off as the result of trade. In other words, trade liberalization,which forms the basis for a greater variety of software products, may work as a catalyst for excess hardware standardization.

Suggested Citation

  • Iwasa, Kazumichi & Kikuchi, Toru, 2007. "Indirect Network Effects, Trade Liberalization, and Excess Standardization," MPRA Paper 4399, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:4399

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicholas Economides, 1997. "The Economics of Networks," Brazilian Electronic Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, vol. 1(0), December.
    2. Desruelle, Dominique & Gaudet, Gerard & Richelle, Yves, 1996. "Complementarity, coordination and compatibility: The role of fixed costs in the economics of systems," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 747-768, October.
    3. Gandal, Neil & Shy, Oz, 2001. "Standardization policy and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 363-383, April.
    4. Toru Kikuchi, 2007. "Network Externalities And Comparative Advantage," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 327-337, October.
    5. Farrell, Joseph & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "Standardization and variety," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 71-74.
    6. Shy,Oz, 2001. "The Economics of Network Industries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521805001, March.
    7. Chien-Fu Chou & Oz Shy, 1991. "Intra-industry Trade and the Variety of Home Products," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 24(2), pages 405-416, May.
    8. Church, Jeffrey & Gandal, Neil, 1992. "Network Effects, Software Provision, and Standardization," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 85-103, March.
    9. Chou, Chien-fu & Shy, Oz, 1996. "Do consumers gain or lose when more people buy the same brand," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 309-330, September.
    10. Neil Gandal, 2002. "Compatibility, Standardization, and Network Effects: Some Policy Implications," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 80-91, Spring.
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    Indirect Network Effects; Trade Liberalization;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation

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