Working Papers

Digitalization and Platforms in Agriculture: Organizations, Power Asymmetry, and Collective Action Solutions

Martin Kenney, Hiam Serhan, and Gilles Trystram, April 2020

Technologies such as digitally-equipped agricultural equipment, drones, image recognition, sensors, robots and artificial intelligence are being rapidly adopted throughout the agri-food system, leading to the generation and use of ever more data. The benefits of data sharing for efficiency, productivity and sustainability are predicated upon the adoption of an online digital platform. The conundrum is that, as the intermediary, the owner of a successful platform acquires significant power in relationship to the platform sides. This paper identifies five types of platform business models/ownership arrangements and their benefits and drawbacks for the various actors in the agri-food system, assesses the business models for each of these organizational forms, and describes the drawbacks each of these organizational forms have experienced as they attempt to secure adoption of their particular platform solution. Download the full paper.

The Platform Economy Matures: Pervasive Power, Private Regulation, and Dependent Entrepreneurs

Martin Kenney, Dafna Bearson, and John Zysman, November 2019

Platforms are an emblem and embodiment of the digital era just as factories were of the industrial revolution. Digital platforms, through their power in their respective ecosystems, are intermediating and contributing to the reorganization of ever-greater segments of the economy and society. As this occurs, existing firms, jobs, and labor relationships are being displaced or transformed, even while new tasks and enterprises are emerging, and existing firms are adjusting. This paper explores the ways in which platform firms are insinuating themselves into ever more parts of the economy. Download the full paper.

The Platform Economy and Geography: Restructuring the Space of Capitalist Accumulation

Martin Kenney and John Zysman, November 2019

Digital online platform firms are reorganizing the geography of how value is created and who captures it and where. This essay argues that economic geographers have underestimated the power of platform and the firms that control them.  To illustrate the impact on the geography of value creation, we undertake cases studies of two platforms, Amazon and Google Maps, to explicate their effects upon the location of economic activity. These platform leaders have the largest data sets and have created enormous teams of the best AI, machine learning resarchers, and, finally, have enormous reservoirs of capital with which to capture new technologies that may threaten them. Download the full paper.

Labor in the Platform Economy: New Work Created, Old Work Reorganized and Value Creation Reconfigured

Dafna Bearson, Martin Kenney, and John Zysman, May 2019

How do platform organizations create new jobs and reorganize old work? And how is value created in the platform economy? Platforms have profoundly altered market logic and dynamics, and challenge us to rethink the ways we define labor and value creation. In this paper, Dafna Bearson, Martin Kenney, and John Zysman present a new taxonomy of platform work that focuses on the reorganization of work in the platform era and apply this framework to the work generated by Etsy and Amazon publishing. Download the full paper.