The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Path Dependence in Technical Standards

  • Douglas Puffert
Reference work entry


The value of standardization leads to the persistence of established technical practices despite, in some cases, imperfect adaptation to current exogenous conditions. Economic explanation of these practices therefore requires reference to history. The conditions leading to path dependence in technical standards, as well as path independence, are examined with reference both to economic theory and to case studies of the QWERTY keyboard, videocassette recorder systems, railway track gauge and other railway standards. The controversy over path dependence is discussed.


Increasing returns to adoption Information technology Learning by doing Learning by using Learning effects Multiple equilibria Network effects Path dependence Path dependence in technical standards QWERTY keyboard Railway track gauge Standards Technical interrelatedness Technical standards Transaction costs 

JEL Classification

O33 N70 C63 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Puffert
    • 1
  1. 1.