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PhD Defence

The Emergence of Democratic Firms in the Platform Economy: Drivers, Obstacles, and the Path Ahead

  • M. Mannan
Date
Tuesday 15 February 2022
Time
Location
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

Supervisor(s)

  • Prof. I.S. Wuisman
  • Prof. J.A.A. Adriaanse

Summary

There has been growing concern about the depredations of platform capitalism, ranging from the erosion of workplace protections to questionable corporate, labour, and data governance practices. This PhD research project investigated the emergence of ‘democratic’ alternatives to capital-managed platform businesses, which confer important control and financial rights to the stakeholders that contribute intellectual, social, financial and use value to a firm. Interdisciplinary research methods were used for this project, combining doctrinal research with the use of a Delphi study and case studies. In terms of scope, the research specifically focused on platform companies and democratic firms in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom,  and the United States.

This dissertation makes a three-fold contribution to the literature. First, it explores the extent to which democratic firms can ameliorate the socio-economic concerns raised by capital-managed online labour and social media platforms. Second, it unpacks the (socio-)legal obstacles that exist to the formation and governance of democratic firms in the platform economy. Third, it charts pathways towards making such firms more viable. The dissertation found that while factors such as the shifting of risk onto workers and concern about corporate accountability drove interest in democratic firms, start-up costs (e.g., obtaining adequate financing) and governance costs (e.g., member apathy) have been barriers to formation. Based on the aforementioned empirical research and theoretical insights from earlier historical experiences with democratic firms, potential solutions are tentatively offered to overcome these barriers, from the use of degradable reputation tools to the joint development of the platform’s intellectual property.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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071 527 1521

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