Interoperability in Information Systems in the Furtherance of Trade

18 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2012 Last revised: 22 Nov 2014

See all articles by John G. Palfrey

John G. Palfrey

Harvard Law School

Urs Gasser

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: June 1, 2012


This is one of three in-depth exploratory studies, which aim to gain a deeper understanding of the role that interoperability plays as an enabler of innovation and creativity in international trade. Each study explores the various institutions, policies and approaches that shape the interoperability landscape and investigates the effects of these factors and drivers on trade in the globalized economy.

In this series, we examine: (i) to what extent and how interoperability has contributed to the promotion of international trade; (ii) what respective roles international organizations have played in concert with other stakeholders with regard to interoperability and international trade; (iii) what policies and approaches to supporting interoperability have been used, and with what results; and (iv) what can be learned from these experiences with regard to emerging interoperability issues in the context of international trade.

The three studies address this set of questions from different angles, acknowledging the multi-faceted character of the concept of interoperability (Gasser & Palfrey, Basic Books 2012). Two of them – “Fostering innovation and trade in the global information society: The different facets and roles of interoperability”, and “Mapping Cloud Interoperability in the Globalized Economy: Theory and Observations from Practice” – focus specifically on cloud computing, an emerging technical paradigm through which to analyze the policy relevance of interoperability in a globalized economy. This example also facilitates exploration of some of the key issues and practical challenges that arise as various stakeholders engage with cloud services, infrastructure, and data across the world, as well as the implications for trade, policy, and different actors, especially, governments.
 The third study, “Interoperability in Information and Information Systems in the Furtherance of Trade” is focused on the role, current debates, and associated benefits and challenges in establishing a system of interoperability for information and information systems in the service of trade in a global economy over time.

Suggested Citation

Palfrey, John G. and Gasser, Urs, Interoperability in Information Systems in the Furtherance of Trade (June 1, 2012). NCCR Trade Regulation Working Paper No. 2012/26, Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2012-21, Available at SSRN: or

John G. Palfrey

Harvard Law School ( email )

1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Areeda Hall 511
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Urs Gasser (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States


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