Digital Capitalism

This project is about “digital capitalism,” and more specifically, the emergence of a new “gig” economy associated with the rise of new “platform” business models such as Uber, Upwork, TaskRabbit, Helpling, and others. These new app-based companies create value not by producing “things” or even by providing services in the traditional way, but instead by enabling producers and consumers to interact directly. These new business models pose a host of new regulatory challenges, because the entrepreneurs associated with “digital capitalism” are often creating wholly new markets beyond the reach of current labor and regulatory policies. This project explores cross national variation in how these platform business models are received and regulated in different national contexts. While most of the study revolves around variation among the most advanced industrial economies of North America and Europe, I will extend the analysis to include South Africa (alongside one other middle-income economy, namely Brazil).

Project leader(s):
  • Kathleen Thelen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

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