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The Dynamics of Pre-Market Standardization

Authors/Editors: Kerstan, S.
Kretschmer, T.
Mühlfeld, K.
Published: 2012
Type: Articles in Refereed Journals (International)
ISBN/ISSN: 1476-1270
Published by: Information Economics and Policy, 24(2), pp. 105-119


This paper studies an under-explored phenomenon: standardization arising during the technology development stage from the interplay of incentives to compete and cooperate. We identify circumstances in which a firm will prelaunch its technology (i.e. publish detailed technological specifications) and the rival abandons its own technology to support a common standard in a two-stage two-player game with network effects and licensing and a fixed deadline for technological development. We find that failure to standardize predominantly occurs for technologies with very weak or very strong network effects, and for firms with similar technological capabilities. The outcome can depend on what would be perceived by market participants as a simultaneous prelaunch: a prelaunch on the same day, during the same week or month, and so on, depending on how time is discretized.