Business Research

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 67–84

Path Dependence in Decision-Making Processes: Exploring the Impact of Complexity under Increasing Returns

  • Jochen Koch
  • Martin Eisend
  • Arne Petermann
Open Access


The development of path-dependent processes basically refers to positive feedback in terms of increasing returns as the main driving forces of such processes. Furthermore, path dependence can be affected by context factors, such as different degrees of complexity. Up to now, it has been unclear whether and how different settings of complexity impact path-dependent processes and the probability of lock-in. In this paper we investigate the relationship between environmental complexity and path dependence by means of an experimental study. By focusing on the mode of information load and decision quality in chronological sequences, the study explores the impact of complexity on decision-making processes. The results contribute to both the development of path-dependence theory and a better understanding of decision-making behavior under conditions of positive feedback. Since previous path research has mostly applied qualitative case-study research and (to a minor part) simulations, this paper makes a further contribution by establishing an experimental approach for research on path dependence.


Complexity Decision-making Path dependence Lock-in 


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© The Author(s) 2009

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jochen Koch
    • 1
  • Martin Eisend
    • 2
  • Arne Petermann
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Management and OrganizationEuropean University ViadrinaFrankfurt (Oder)Germany
  2. 2.Department of International MarketingEuropean University ViadrinaFrankfurt (Oder)Germany
  3. 3.Institute of ManagementFreie Universität BerlinGermany

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