Track chairs

  • Brian Nicholson (brian.nicholson[at], Manchester Business School, UK)
  • Petter Nielsen (pnielsen[at], University of Oslo, Norway)
  • Johan Ivar Sæbø (johansa[at], University of Oslo, Norway)

Overview of the Research area

Digital platforms are multi-sided markets based on enabling value-creating interactions between external producers and consumers. Digital platforms produce products, services, or technologies developed by one or more firms, and which serve as foundation upon which a larger number of firms can build further complementary innovations and potentially generate network effects (Gawer and Cusumano 2014, Parker et al 2016, de Reuver et al 2017). Donner (2018) proposed four “key platform archetypes” :

  • Infrastructures that allow 3rd party innovations such as Android or iOS.
  • Multi sided markets such as  Ebay, AirBnB.
  • Social media brokers such as Facebook and youTube.
  • Labour / gig platforms such as MTurk, Upwork, Uber.

With digital platforms, new venues for participation in innovation opens up which potentially attracts a much broader and more heterogeneous audience, an effect also present in developing countries (Nielsen 2017). Contributions to this stream may focus on any of the platform archetypes towards improving our understanding of the applications of digital platforms and illustrating the strengthening of southern-driven cooperation as a catalyst for ICT4D and also critical studies.

Exemplar topics and types of contributions looked-for

  • Making sense of the implications of the gap between platforms in North / South.  UNCTAD (2017) point out that Africa and Latin America accounted for less than 2 per cent of the total value of digital economy companies with a market capitalization of more than $1 billion.  Topics could include the implications (positive and negative) of the overwhelming dominance of app development from USA (eg. Caribou 2016) and of the “frightful 5” of Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook (eg. Taplin 2017)?  What are the implications of platforms as commercial intermediaries as well as regulators?
  • Examples and implications of Southern countries emerging as important innovators in platforms. Topics may include: specific platform applications such as micro sourcing, Fintech including blockchain, payments, crypto currencies, p2p lending; platforms  and health; insurance; agriculture; digital entrepreneurship and platform start-up ecosystems; mobile platforms; e-participation; specifics of platform design in South e.g. profit, non-profit, social enterprise and / or co-operative business models; platform governance, managing the “chicken or the egg” problem, managing network effects. Evaluation of development policy for training gig platform workers (eg. Heeks 2017, Malik et al 2016); Platforms and refugees (eg. “techfugees”).
  • Examples and implications of how developing countries participate in and take relevant roles in digital innovation. This can include examples of digital innovation by developing countries; theorizing digital innovation within developing country contexts; and how digital innovation relates to development.
  • Implications of digital platforms related to ethics, privacy, and security.

NOTE: This track is also considered as the conference's General Track. Scientific papers that don't fit topic-specific tracks can be submitted through this track.

References and Bibliography

Avgerou, C., & Li, B. (2013) Relational and institutional embeddedness of Web‐enabled entrepreneurial networks: case studies of netrepreneurs in China, Information Systems Journal, 23(4), 329-350.

Caribou Digital, Winners & Losers in the Global App Economy Farnham, Surrey, United Kingdom: Caribou Digital Publishing, 2016. Available at last accessed 2nd March 2018.

de Reuver, M., Sørensen, C. & Basole, R.C. J Inf Technol (2017).

Donner, J (2018) On ‘Platforms’ and ‘Development’ Presentation at the 3rd DIODE workshop, Cape Town,  available at last accessed 2nd March 2018.

Foster, C. (2015) Why haven’t digital platforms transformed firms in developing countries? The Rwandan tourism sector explored available at  last accessed 20th November 2017.

Gawer, A. (2009). Platforms, Markets and Innovation. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Gawer, A. and Cusumano, M.A. (2014). Industry platforms and ecosystem innovation. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31(3), pp.417–433.

Heeks, R (2017)  Decent Work and the Digital Gig Economy: A Developing Country Perspective on Employment Impacts and Standards in Online Outsourcing,Crowdwork, etc . Working Paper Available at Last Accessed 2nd March 2018.

Jin, D (2015) Digital Platforms, Imperialism and Political Culture. Routledge.

Malik, F, Nicholson, B and Heeks, R (2017) Understanding the development implications of online outsourcing. Proceedings of IFIP 9.4 International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries. Springer, Cham.

Nielsen, P. (2017). Digital Innovation: A Research Agenda for Information Systems Research in Developing Countries. Paper presented at the The 14th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Parker, G.G., Van Alstyne, M.W. and Choudary, S.P. (2016). Platform revolution : how networked markets are transforming the economy and how to make them work for you. W. W. Norton, Incorporated.

Srnicek, N (2017) Platform Capitalism. Polity.

Taplin, J (2017) Move Fast and Break Things, Macmillan.

UNCTAD (2017) Information Economy Report available at, last accessed 16th November  2017.