Accepted paper:

Developmental implications of digital platforms


Kari Koskinen (The London School of Economics and Political Science)
Ben Eaton (Surrey Business School)
Carla Bonina (Surrey Business School)

Paper short abstract:

Digital platforms have occupied a key position in the business models of the biggest global companies. Overall, many of the most important digital platforms originate from the Global North, yet the platforms' developmental impacts to the lives in the Global South are not entirely understood.

Paper long abstract:

In 2017, five of the six biggest global companies by market value relied on the usage of digital platforms in their principal business models. What is more, digital platforms have become integral to many of the everyday activities that people across the globe encounter in areas like transportation, commerce and social interactions. Research on the topic has largely concentrated on the general functioning of these platforms in terms of platform governance, business strategies and consumer behaviour. However, their developmental implications have so far received less attention, which is noteworthy since unlike the platforms and the companies running them that are mostly based in the Global North, their users are increasingly coming from the Global South. This paper aims to bridge this gap by analysing digital platforms in terms of their developmental role. It takes the form of a synthesis study and sets to answer questions such as who are included and who excluded in terms of using digital platforms and whether the platforms function more as reinforcing inequalities or actually contribute towards developmental goals. The research is carried out by using secondary data from the industry and available reports, and provides a basis for studying the positive and negative developmental impacts digital platforms can have in a developing country context.

panel D01
Digital inequalities and development (Paper)