Introduction to the Industrial and Corporate Change Special Issue
Digital technologies and modular production methods have led to the emergence of a new generation of global leaders which cement their market position by orchestrating digital platforms and ecosystems of complementors, which offer them new ways to create and capture value that often transcend the boundaries of existing sectors. Their business models, built on intangibles such as software code and access to data, support expansion that is both breathtakingly rapid and effectively costless. With capital markets all too willing to invest in these firms’ growth, and regulators’ unable to rein them in, these firms have been able to accumulate unprecedented power and wealth, with profound implications for competition, the economy and society itself.
This special issue confronts the challenge of regulating platforms and ecosystems head-on, revisiting the economic, strategic and legal foundations that enable us to detect and redress issues of dominance and competition, and address questions of the appropriate conception of and limits of the law. The papers included cover topics including the true nature of competition with an emphasis on dynamics and innovation, new approaches for legal and economic analysis including the alternatives for the “welfare criterion” and the protection of sunk investments, the approaches to take on tech M&A, the virtues and limits of self-regulation, the potential for radical breakups of Big Tech, and the issues of data, when privacy protection and competition steer us in different directions.
Contributors also weigh up the case for regulatory intervention, the practical challenges involved and the future state that we hope such actions will bring about.
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