Coordination Cascades: Sequential Choice in the Presence of a Network Externality

B. Curtis Eaton,
David Krause
Fri, Oct 7, 2005
University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Alberta Conference on Industrial Organization

In the network externality literature, little, if any attention has been paid to the process through which consumers coordinate their adoption decisions. The primary objective of this paper is to discover how effectively rational individuals manage to coordinate their choices in a sequential choice framework. Since individuals make their choices with minimal information in this setting, perfect coordination will rarely be achieved, and it is therefore of some interest to discern both the extent to which coordination may be achieved, and the expected cost of the failure to achieve perfect coordination. We discover that when it counts, that is when the network externality is large, a substantial amount of coordination is achieved, and although perfect coordination is never guaranteed, expected relative efficiency is large.