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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 platform strategy 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 platform strategy 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 in Europe appears to exacerbate economic and social inequalities.



The Platform Alternatives project addresses the question how platformisation can be governed in order to achieve fairer and more sustainable results for European platform economy 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 digital 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 theorise 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 the strategies of 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 strategy


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 platform strategy, 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 – 12/31/22
SponsorHans Böckler Foundation


Nicolas Friederici, Dr.

Former Associated Researcher: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society

Part of the research group

Former employees

  • Asal Dardan | HIIG Asal Dardan
    Former Knowledge Transfer Coordinator: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society
  • Lea Erlenwein | HIIG Lea Erlenwein
    Former Student assistant: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society
  • Lena Starke | HIIG Lena Starke
    Former Researcher: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society
  • Nicolas Friederici, Dr.
    Former Associated Researcher: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society
  • Tina Krell | HIIG Tina Krell
    Former Associated Researcher: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society

Journal articles and conference proceedings

Bohn, S., Friederici, N., & Gümüşay, A. A. (2020). Too big to fail us? Platforms as systemically relevant. Internet Policy Review. Publication details

Friederici, N., Meier, P., & Gümüşay, A. A. (2020). An opportunity for inclusion? Digital platform innovation in times of crisis. Pioneers Post. Publication details

Working paper

Friederici, N., & Graef, I. (2021). Beyond GAFAM: How size-or-silo regulation fails to account for organisational diversity in the platform economy. Internet Policy Review. Publication details

Other publications

Krell, T. (2021). Caught in the jungle of bureaucracy? Can European Platform Entrepreneurship succeed? Digital Society Blog. Publication details

Erlenwein, L. (2021). Four key ideas for a sustainable platform economy in Europe. Digital Society Blog. Publication details

Friederici, N. (2021). Small goes digital: How digitalization can bring about productive growth for micro and small enterprises. International Labour Office. Publication details

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

Friederici, N. (2020). Can European platform capitalism be sustainable? Digital Society Blog. Publication details

Nicolas Friederici (2020). Towards a fair and equitable European platform economy. CARTA – der Autor*innenblog zu Politik, Kultur, Ökonomie und Theorie. Publication details

Friederici, N., Krell, T., Meier, P., Braesemann, F., & Stephany, F. (2020). Plattforminnovation im Mittelstand, . Publication details

Lectures and presentations

Inclusive Digital Economies - A quick tour of findings from three research streams
UNDP Chief Digital Office. United Nations Development Programme, Online, USA: 18.11.2021 Further information

Nicolas Friederici

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


Airbnb, Uber, Lieferando: Die Zukunft der Wirtschaft?
Berlin Science Week 1–10 Nov. Einstein Center Digital Future, Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. Weizenbaum-Institut, Berlin, Germany: 03.11.2021 Further information

Tina Krell

Future of Work After Covid-19: Opportunities and Challenges of Platform Cooperativism
PLUS Project – Platform Labour in Urban Spaces. Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, Online, Italy: 04.06.2021

Tina Krell

KI-Leuchtturm-Vorhaben: CO:DINA –Transformationsroadmap Digitalisierung und Nachhaltigkeit
CO:DINA-Forum „Digitale Souveränität und Nachhaltigkeit“. Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment,, Online, Germany: 04.12.2020 Further information

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