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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


Tina Krell

Researcher: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society

Nicolas Friederici, Dr.

Project Lead: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society

Other publications

Lehdonvirta, V., Park, S., Krell, T., & Friederici, N. (2020). Platformization in Europe. Global and local digital intermediaries in the retail, taxi, and food delivery industries, . Publication details

Lectures and presentations

“One strategy does not fit all” – A typology of European platform competition.
Session E: Platform Economy. BEYOND4.0 Conference. BEYOND4.0, Online, Bulgaria: 01.10.2021 Further information

Tina Krell, Nicolas Friederici

Varieties of Platform Strategy: An Exploratory Study of European Enterprises
Workshop Regulating work in the platform economy (Session: The effects of the platform economy: business models and value chains). Hertie School. Online, Berlin, Germany: 27.05.2020

Nicolas Friederici

Organisation of events

Platform Entrepreneurship & Society. Lunch Talk with Inge Graef, Jovana Karanović and Christian Fieseler
Open Lunch Talk Series. 27.09.2021. Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Online, Germany (International) Further information

Maria Gradl, Lena Starke, Tina Krell, Nicolas Friederici

Roundtable: Data Governance in Digital Platform Economy
From 23.06.2021 to 23.06.2021. Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Online, Germany. Co-Organised by: Oxford Internet Institute & European Commission (National)

Asal Dardan, Lea Erlenwein, Lena Starke, Tina Krell, Matthias C. Kettemann

Roundtable: Treatment of users and complementors
21.04.2021. Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Online, Germany. Co-Organised by: Oxford Internet Institute & European Commission (International)

Asal Dardan, Lea Erlenwein, Lena Starke, Tina Krell

Platform Entrepreneurship in Europe: Which Business Models are Viable and Sustainable?
03.06.2020. Online, Berlin, Germany. Co-Organised by: Oxford Internet Institute (International) Further information

Asal Dardan, Lena Starke, Tina Krell, Nicolas Friederici