Can vendors influence switching costs and compatibility in an environment with open standards?

Pei Yu Chen, Chris Forman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


This paper examines the potential social costs of standardization, including possible vendor reactions to standards and their impacts on the adoption of new technology and long-term market structure. Specifically, we study how vendors might react to standards in the market for routers and switches, two of the most important pieces of networking hardware for the information systems infrastructure of modern firms. Using data from over 22,000 establishments surveyed by Harte Hanks Market Intelligence, we provide evi dence that vendors are able to maintain high switching costs in the market for routers and switches despite the presence of open standards in the industry. Several vendor actions are discussed in this paper, including manipulating horizontal compatibility between comparable rival products and vertical compatibility between complementary products, maintaining a broader product line, creating product suites, and targeting specific market segments. Our results further suggest that the presence of switching costs can lead to inefficient adoption of new information technology and that vendors may be able to influence the speed of new information technology adoption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-562
Number of pages22
JournalMIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems
Issue numberSPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Compatibility
  • Open standards
  • Routers
  • Switches
  • Switching costs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management


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