Tobias Kretschmer, Sven Werner, 28 August 2021

Recent discussions on how to regulate dominant online platforms revolve around the suitability of applying existing regulatory frameworks. This column contrasts the economic and strategic features of platform business models to those of utility industries, which are often considered structurally similar. It argues that the design of effective regulation for dominant digital platforms should account for platforms’ nature as an ecosystem of independent actors and for their relatively shorter innovation cycles.

Elena Argentesi, Paolo Buccirossi, Emilio Calvano, Tomaso Duso, Alessia Marrazzo, Salvatore Nava, 04 March 2020

Dominant companies in the digital market may use merger and acquisitions – especially ‘killer’ or ‘zombie’ acquisitions – and the (under)enforcement of merger control to stifle competition and cement their market dominance. This column analyses acquisition activity by Amazon, Facebook, and Google between 2008 and 2018, and finds that they often targeted very young firms. Because the evolution of young firms is still uncertain, it is difficult for competition authorities to assess the effects of these mergers, especially when the focus is on single acquisitions without considering the overall acquisition strategy.

Alberto Bailin Rivares, Peter Gal, Valentine Millot, Stéphane Sorbe, 19 June 2019

While the innovative features of online platforms offer the potential to improve the performance of service sectors, they raise many new challenges for policymakers. Using Google search data on service industries in ten OECD countries, this column shows that platforms generally stimulate the productivity of incumbent service firms, but the impact crucially depends on the type of platform considered. Productivity gains tend to be lower when a platform is persistently dominant on its market, suggesting that the contestability of platform markets should be promoted in order to maximise their economic benefits.

Hans Koster, Jos van Ommeren, Nicolas Volhausen, 20 December 2018

Short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb have grown spectacularly in recent years, and local governments around the globe have responded differently in regulating such rentals. This column analyses the effects of a policy change in several cities of Los Angeles County that restricted short-term rentals of entire homes and apartments. Airbnb has led to an increase in house prices that is particularly pronounced in popular tourist areas, and homeowners in these areas lose out from the regulation. Renters, on the other hand, benefit from the regulation.

Koen Frenken, Arnoud van Waes, Magda Smink, Rinie van Est, 03 April 2018

The success of Airbnb and Uber has heralded the rise of online platforms and marketplaces for goods and services. This column identifies public interests that are common to most sharing and gig platforms, and presents a policy framework based on four basic policy options: enforce existing regulations, enact new regulations, deregulate, or tolerate.


CEPR Policy Research