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Markets – Competition – Inequality

Digitalization is accompanied by fundamental changes that affect the organisation of markets, competitive dynamics and their regulation. These changes can have positive effects, as well as unintended social consequences. This research area therefore examined on one hand innovative companies in digital markets and on the other hand the effects on social and economic inequalities.

The fast paced development in the digital environment promotes a wide range of ambivalences that affect and constantly challenge us in almost all areas of life. Digitalisation offers immense opportunities for personal participation and opens up new areas of innovation, but at the same time demands the development of digital sovereignty and the definition of appropriate frameworks. A characteristic feature of digitalisation is that social reality is transformed into objectifying data structures, making data use ubiquitous in more and more areas.

The debate on digital participation and the design of data-structured reality spaces thus claims an increasingly important role, which was the focus of this research area. The aim was to identify new dynamics as well as development potentials and needs for action for the triad Market – Competition – Inequality. The central objects of investigation were data-based business model innovations, particularly in the area of education, and the framework conditions of data markets that make this innovation possible. Furthermore, the change processes of value chains and economic activity in the context of the Sharing Economy as well as upstream and complementary aspects of the Platform Economy and Internet Policy were examined. In this context, the potential and the effects of digitalization on social inclusion, digital participation and digital sovereignty were also considered and analysed with regard to digitalization strategies and policy-making oriented towards the common good.

Research Groups

Work and Cooperation in the Sharing Economy

The so-called sharing economy promises to fundamentally change consumption patterns, value chains as well as economic activities. In our research, we investigated, among other things, the efficiency, mechanics, and evolution of sharing markets, the impact of the sharing economy on market, industry, and employment structures, the role of data and data access, and the need for regulatory reforms. In addition, we investigated complementary aspects of the platform economy and Internet policy.

Frameworks for Data Markets

The Research Group (Previously named: Data as a Means of Payment) examined data usage in the digital economy from legal, psychological and economic perspectives. Our research focused on the functioning of digital markets as well as the chances and risks of data trade. It included questions of private autonomy in the areas of tension between data markets, data protection, contract law, data rights, and cognitive and emotional-motivational dynamic processes that drive individuals to permit use of their personal data.

Data-driven Business Model Innovations

The research group combined theory construction on business model innovation with the empirical analysis of sectoral data-led innovation processes, e.g. in education, open data, mobility or the creative industries. Today’s production of infinite amounts of data by humans has a lasting impact on how business models are designed, even forcing well-established market participants to rethink and alter their business models. Data-driven business model innovation is therefore highly relevant for corporate practice and policy.

Inequality and Digital Sovereignty

The term digital sovereignty has been used to describe a new model for people and collectives in the digital world that focuses on competences, duties and rights. The research group used integrative approaches of practice-oriented design research to investigate the constitution and coordination of personal and collective scope for action and decision-making with regard to the use and appropriation on one hand, and the designability on the other.

Digital Integration

The research group "Digital Integration" dealt mainly with the potential of digitalisation with a special focus on social media, which enable social inclusion across different segments of the population.