Competition and social influence: The diffusion of the sixth‐generation processor in the global computer industry

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Citation: Matthew S. Bothner (2003) Competition and social influence: The diffusion of the sixth‐generation processor in the global computer industry. American Journal of Sociology (RSS)
DOI (original publisher): 10.1086/375200
Semantic Scholar (metadata): 10.1086/375200
Sci-Hub (fulltext): 10.1086/375200
Internet Archive Scholar (fulltext): Competition and social influence: The diffusion of the sixth‐generation processor in the global computer industry
Tagged: Sociology (RSS) Economic Sociology (RSS), Networks (RSS), SNA (RSS), Business (RSS), Innovation (RSS), Diffusion (RSS)

Summary (Abstract)

Matthew Bothner is an economic sociological analysis that tries to pin down and empirically measure the effect of social influence on competition around the diffusion of the sixth-generation processor (i.e., the Pentium Pro) in the global computer industry. In particular, it tries to ask when a social actor will be most susceptible to influence by the conduct of their counterparts offering a sort of contingent set of network effects.

Bother's paper includes three formal hypotheses:

  1. Building most closely on Ronald Burt's work on network, the likelihood of adoption increases with the degree to which a firm's structurally equivalent competitors have adopted the new technology. (Supported)
  2. Building primarily on a population ecology literature, the effect of adoptions by a firm's structurally equivalent competitors increases as relative size decreases (i.e., the smaller players feel more pressure). (Supported)
  3. The effect of adoptions by a firm's structurally equivalent competitors is strongest for firms that are relatively small and broad in scope. (Supported)

Bothner tests his hypotheses using data from IDC (the largest data consultancy worldwide to technology companies). The data was tested using discrete time survival analysis where adoption was the event of interest. All hypotheses are supported.

The basic finding was that relatively small firms are particularly affected by the behavior of those around them, particularly if they diversified across a number of different market segments.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

Bothner's paper has been cited more than 40 times since it was published in 2003, primarily in the literature on sociology, networks, organizations, and markets. Although not cited often, it has been cited by Ron Burt, Brian Uzzi, and a number of high profile other authors and papers.