Pekka Sääskilahti, MSc (Econ.), will defend his doctoral thesis entitled ”Essays on the Economics of Networks and Social Relations” at the Helsinki School of Economics on December 7, 2005. The public defence will start at 12 o’clock in the Stora Enso Hall of the Chydenia building (address: Runeberginkatu 22-24, Helsinki). The opponent is Professor Robin Mason, PhD, (University of Southampton) and the custos is Professor Pekka Ilmakunnas, PhD, (Helsinki School of Economics).
Modern society is built on networks. Transportation networks take people from one place to another; information networks do the same virtually. Family, friends, colleagues and neighbours form our social relations. Livelihood may depend less on family today than in ancient agrarian times, but leisure time is at least as social as it ever was. Mr. Sääskilahti asks how companies take their customers’ social networks into account in their pricing and investment strategies.
The utility of social goods increases the more people adopt them. This feature is called network externality. The fax machine is a classic example. One fax is useless, but once there are millions of faxes, the utility of a single machine is significant. Modern examples include mobile phones, game consoles, software, and many Internet-based services. As far as network externalities are concerned, the consumer’s buying decision follows the “I buy only if you buy” strategy. Since all consumers think this way, we have multiple equilibria: all buy or no one buys. This indeterminacy regarding equilibrium is a problem because we obtain multiple predictions about the firm’s strategy even under a single market environment.
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