platform-alternatives(1)

Platform Alternatives

How can Europe’s digital platform economy be governed to achieve fairer results for all stakeholders? The Platform Alternatives project analyses the structural effects of large American platforms, and the strategies of their European competitors. The project team will derive Corporate Governance Principles for digital platforms that seek to distribute collectively created value more fairly. The project is implemented jointly by HIIG and the Oxford Internet Institute (OII).

Global digitisation has enabled US platform companies to gain global reach and significant market power. This has also led to “platformisation” in Europe: European firms, employees and consumers are exposed to institutional settings, digital infrastructures and competitive conditions that are created and shaped by a few private transnational platforms. This leads to a structural transformation of economic value creation and capture: European platform users become co-producers of value but are not involved in the control of platforms and usually only seize a small portion of the collectively created value. Overall, platformisation thus appears to exacerbate economic and social inequalities.

The Platform Alternatives project addresses the question how platformisation can be governed in order to achieve fairer results for European stakeholders. Our goal is to ultimately formulate Platform Corporate Governance Principles as a normative synthesis of the research results. These principles will give practical advice for platform companies and their stakeholders, based on the ideas of worker co-determination of firm governance (Mitbestimmung).

We begin by assessing differences in platformisation across Europe. We then theorize to what extent these are based on constellations of institutions, infrastructures and competition that are determined by US platforms. Based on this analysis, we examine platform entrepreneurship in Europe to understand which platform alternatives European organisations are able to offer. We aim to understand why they do not achieve the same reach as US platforms, and whether they correspond more closely to European value systems than their American counterparts. We will carry out about 10 in-depth longitudinal case studies of European platform companies in 5 cities.

Platform stakeholders (especially users, employees and unions) and policymakers are involved through extensive knowledge transfer in the form of workshops and reviews, community building, blog posts and white papers.

Our highly practice-oriented research project deals holistically with platformisation, going beyond related work that focuses on the gig economy or competition law. The Platform Alternatives project is also unique in that it mediates between entrepreneurial and normative concerns from the perspective of platform companies. Ultimately, we hope to contribute to a closer alignment between the platform economy and the European social model.

Duration01/01/20 – 12/31/21
SponsorHans Böckler Foundation

Contact

Tina Krell

Researcher: Innovation and entrepreneurship

Nicolas Friederici, Dr.

Head of Research Group: Innovation & Entrepreneurship

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