The Rise and Maturation of the Platform Economy

Platformizing the Economy? Building and Regulating Chinese Digital Platforms

Scott McKnight
Martin Kenney
Dan Breznitz
2021

The online platform economy in China has grown to become one of the largest in the world, with several Chinese platform firms rivaling their American counterparts in size, revenue, and market capitalization. Their rise has challenged existing businesses and forced governments to find new ways to regulate the sector without stifling economic growth and innovation. In this paper, we present a structured explanation of the changes in governance of these private firms by the Chinese government as they grew from startups to powerful and indispensable actors in China’s...

Does the Winning Region Take All? Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, Support Organizations, and Domain Knowledge

Yating Li
Martin Kenney
Donald Patton
2021

The role of entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs) receiving increased attention. These EEs are composed not only of startups but also organizations and individuals that support startups. Research has been ambivalent about whether an EE is spatially bounded or can include distant organizations. Further, the literature has not reached a consensus as to whether entrepreneurial versus industrial domain knowledge is of greater importance. Finally, most EE studies, when empirical, use panel data, though conceptual development recognizes that EEs are not static but, rather, are emergent and...

Platform Power and Regulatory Politics: Polanyi for the 21st Century

John W. Cioffi
Martin Kenney
John Zysman
2021

Intensifying concerns about on line platform firms’ rapid rise, expansion, and growing asymmetric power have attracted political scrutiny and undermined the legitimacy of a minimalist regulatory regime that is giving way to intense debate and increasingly interventionist governmental policies and enforcement actions. First, we view the rise of, and recent political responses to, the often-predatory power and manipulative conduct of platform firm in terms of a “Polanyian” double movement in which the destabilizing and destructive effects of unchecked corporate activities and market...

The Platform Economy Matures: Measuring Pervasiveness and Exploring Power

Martin Kenney
Dafna Bearson
John Zysman
2021

Online platforms are pervasive and powerful in today's economy. We explore the increased centrality of platforms through two empirical contributions. First, we measure the extent to which platforms are insinuating themselves into the economy. We accomplish this by providing quantitative evidence of the extent to which platforms are intermediating business activities across all US service industries at the six-digit NAICS code level. Our results show that 70% of service industries, representing over 5.2 million establishments, are potentially affected by one or more platforms. Second, we...

Algorithms, Data, and Platforms: The Diverse Challenges of Governing AI

Mark J. Nitzberg
John Zysman
2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) poses interwoven challenges. Defined as technology that uses advanced computation to perform at human cognitive capacity in some task area, AI must be regulated in the context of its broader toolbox - algorithms, data and platforms - and its regulation must be sector-specific. Establishing national and community priorities on how to reap AI’s benefits, while managing its social and economic risks, is an evolving debate. Digital Platform Firms are a fundamental driver of AI tools: they dominate the playing field and often pursue priorities outside the frames of...

Disruptive Innovation: Risk-Shifting and Precarity in the Age of Uber

Emily Isaac
2014

Over the past 30 years, economic restructuring and advancements in technological innovation have allowed for the emergence of new business models that disrupt many longstanding industries. Much of the industry disruption that we see today stems from tech companies and startups that have developed a better cost-model by utilizing smart phone-enabled apps to offer simpler and less expensive products and services than those offered by competing incumbents. Uber Technologies Inc., an on-demand ridesharing service that connects passengers to local drivers in real time using smartphone...

Measuring the impacts of labor in the platform economy: new work created, old work reorganized, and value creation reconfigured

Dafna Bearson
Martin Kenney
John Zysman
2019

Though economists have examined labor displacement due to digitization, few have considered the new work and value created. Unlike employment relations that brought workers together on the assembly line or in an office in a previous era, platforms enable a greater, more dispersed, and complex division of labor. New and reconfigured types of labor enabled by platforms create identification and measurement challenges. Previous studies of platforms invariably focused on specific organizational forms such as sharing or gigs. They built taxonomies based on the platform's organization –...

MyFitnessPal: How This Winner-Took-All by Helping People Lose

Emily Alonso
2015

Up until about 10 years ago, when a person thought of fitness, health or weight loss, they did not necessarily associate those things with technology. However, as the world takes on a new digital landscape, health care industries from weight-loss to hospitals are becoming increasingly digitized. The idea behind this digitization of the health/fitness industries is that people able to quantify their health will be more likely to improve it (MacManus). Thus with the utilization of big data, big people will begin to no longer be an “epidemic” in our society. Though this is wishful thinking,...

The Politics of Commoditization in Global ICT Industries: A Political Economy Explanation of the Rise of Apple, Google, and Industry Disruptors

Kenji E. Kushida
2015

The global Information and Communications Technologies industry has experienced a rapid, radical reorganization of industry leaders and business models—most recently in mobile. New players Apple and Google abruptly redefined the industry, bringing a wave of commoditization to carriers and equipment manufacturers. Technologies, corporate strategies, and industry structures are usually the first places to look when explaining these industry disruptions, but this paper argues that it was actually a set of political bargains during initial phases of telecommunications liberalization, which...