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Lock-in, path dependence, and the internationalization of QWERTY

  • Neil Kay


    (Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde)

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    This paper looks at the emergence of what is described here as the QWERTY family of standards (QWERTY and its international adaptations QZERTY, AZERTY, and QWERTZ). QWERTY has been described as an inferior solution and an accident of history. However, the analysis here finds that each member of the family represented highly efficient adaptations to specific user needs and technical challenges encountered in their own environments. These findings may be seen to have wider implications given QWERTY’s role as paradigm case in the literature on increasing returns and path dependence, and these are pursued in the paper.

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    Paper provided by University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1310.

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    Length: 23 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2013
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published
    Handle: RePEc:str:wpaper:1310
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    1. Andreas Reinstaller & Werner Hölzl, 2009. "Big causes and small events: QWERTY and the mechanization of office work," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(5), pages 999-1031, October.
    2. Page, Scott E., 2006. "Path Dependence," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 1(1), pages 87-115, January.
    3. Lewin, Peter, 2001. " The Market Process and the Economics of QWERTY: Two Views," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 65-96, March.
    4. Jean-Philippe Vergne & Rodolphe Durand, 2010. "The Missing Link Between the Theory and Empirics of Path Dependence: Conceptual Clarification, Testability Issue, and Methodological Implications," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 736-759, 06.
    5. Liebowitz, S J & Margolis, Stephen E, 1990. "The Fable of the Keys," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 1-25, April.
    6. Michael L. Katz & Carl Shapiro, 1994. "Systems Competition and Network Effects," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 93-115, Spring.
    7. Raghu Garud & Arun Kumaraswamy & Peter Karnøe, 2010. "Path Dependence or Path Creation?," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 760-774, 06.
    8. Liebowitz, S J & Margolis, Stephen E, 1995. "Path Dependence, Lock-in, and History," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 205-26, April.
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