The entrepreneurial ecosystem (EE) literature has attracted much attention, especially in policy circles. However, the concept suffers from a number of shortcomings: (1) it lacks a clear analytical framework that makes explicit what is cause and what is effect in an EE; (2) while being a systemic concept, the EE has not yet fully exploited insights from network theory, and it is not always clear in what way the proposed elements are connected in an EE; (3) it remains a challenge what institutions (and at what spatial scale) impact on the structure and performance of EE; (4) studies have often focused on the EE in single regions or clusters, but lack a comparative and multi-scalar perspective and (5) the EE literature tends to provide a static framework taking a snapshot of EE without considering systematically their evolution over time. For each of these shortcomings, we make a number of suggestions to take up in future research on EE.
This article examines the main public interests at stake with the rise of online platforms in the sharing economy and the gig economy. We do so by analyzing platforms in five sectors in the Netherlands: domestic cleaning (Helpling), taxi rides (UberPop), home restaurants (AirDnD), home sharing (Airbnb), and car sharing (SnappCar). The most salient public interests are a level playing field between platforms and industry incumbents, tax compliance, consumer protection, labor protection, and privacy protection. We develop four policy options (enforce, new regulation, deregulation, and toleration), and discuss the rationales for each option in safeguarding each public interest. We further stress that arguments supporting a particular policy option should take into account the sectoral context. We finally highlight the tension between the subsidiarity principle, which would call for local regulations as platforms mostly concern local transactions and innovation policies that aim to support innovation and a single digital market.
Frenken, K., van Waes, A., Pelzer, P., Smink, M., & van Est, R. (2019). Safeguarding Public Interests in the Platform Economy. Policy & Internet
Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development
Utrecht University, Netherlands
The interview transcript
Janna thank you very much for accepting this invitation to have a coffee break with me, how are you doing?
Thank you very much, it’s great to be here and I’m doing very well, thank you
Great to know, I’m enjoying as usual a very nice and dark this time black Colombian coffee, which coffee are you having today?
I have a lovely cappuccino.
Janna I want to talk with you about very interesting paper you wrote in which you do a critical review of entrepreneurial ecosystems, could you please tell me what the paper was about?
sure so the paper is about the concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems, they became very popular and it was mentioned a lot so a lot of policy makers were keen on applying that concept, however it was also a bit confusing and researchers at that time also had hard time to explaining all the bits and parts of that concept, so in our paper we went through systematically different research papers to explain what were the shortcomings of that concept at that time.
That sounds great so I imagined that the key notion of your paper is entrepreneurial ecosystems, do you mind giving us a definition of this concept?
yes of course entrepreneurial ecosystems are ecosystems that support or not entrepreneurship in the region and you could think about Silicon Valley, which is a popular example or another region like Stockholm or Lund, where there are different actors and factors are coordinated in a certain way that they support or not productive entrepreneurship, so we talk about actors, factors, links between them it happens in a region and we promote productive entrepreneurship.
Thank you for that that’s a very important concept indeed, in being in Lund very important to define it there um I want to know now a little bit about the findings of your paper can you tell us something about them please?
yes of course so the findings were about shortcomings as I mentioned and we found that cause and effect in the framework was not really clearly explained, another thing was that we were talking about entrepreneurial ecosystem like a network and we know a lot about networks through network theory and we have network tools but those were not yet applied to that concept, another thing were institutions institutions, such as culture or laws and regulations are very important, we know that, but also that was not really discussed in that concept yet in scientific literature, multiscalar approach was not taking up either, which means that not only looking at networks in one region, but how also how links outside of the region to national and global level play a role, also institutions play a role not only at regional level, but also at national and global levels and that is important to understand how that impact entrepreneurship comparative analysis or comparative approach was not taking up either too much, which means that researchers were focusing on certain regions and explaining that as singular cases and more comparative studies would be good to have and last point was dynamics, many discussions were about static view on entrepreneurship ecosystem, entrepreneurial ecosystem and it’s really interesting to know how we arrived there, how did silicon valley became what it is or how did Stockholm became what it is, how it started um developed their networks and became stronger with time.
So interesting thank you for that I would like you please to tell us a little bit about your personal experience or your personal motivation when you when you wrote this paper?
so this is a concept that supports or not entrepreneurship and of course that is very interesting to know because I’ve been an entrepreneur myself, I had a company and then I studied masters in entrepreneurship so anything that can help entrepreneurs dare to start a company and get support in those questions have been interesting to me.
That’s great to know honestly I’m also an entrepreneur myself and I really enjoyed your reading your paper because of that so, finally I want to ask you about the implications for for policy makers after your paper.
so the relevance to policy is that quality of entrepreneurship differ between different regions and that means that we have different type we can expect to have different types of firms in, as I mentioned Silicon Valley or Ohio or Stockholm or Lund regions and and we should understand not only how the firms themselves act and what they need but also the system they are in the ecosystem they are in, so policy makers should not only stimulate the entrepreneurial firms, but also understand the whole system and address bottlenecks in that system,
That’s really really important indeed and thank you very very much for for that paper for all your valuable insights and of course for having the time to chat with me and I wish you Janna all the best and those were all my questions and hope to see you soon in a coffee break.
My pleasure thank you very much for having me.
Thank you for watching if you’re interested in more details about this academic publication you can find here the link below. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube or listen to our podcast on Spotify, see you next time bye!
Koen, thank you very much for accepting this invitation to a coffee break, how are you doing?
I would like to talk with you today about the paper you wrote, in which you are examining public interests with regards to online platforms in sharing economies, platform economies actually. Could you please tell me what the paper was about?
Well the paper examines the pros and cons of online platforms that people use to sell their goods, rent out their houses, but also offer services like cleaning, taxi, tutoring what have you, and there’s a lot of political debate about how we have to manage and regulate those platforms, and this paper looks at all the positive and all the negatives of such platforms for society.
So since this notion of platform economies is so important for your paper, is important for your paper, could you please define it?
Well a platform brings together supply and demand through a website, but it also does much more because it regulates the way we trade, it monitors what we do and it can also ban users in case they feel that users do not comply to their rules, so they act what people say as a private regulator in organizing markets way before the government would regulate those markets and this brings positive aspects for the government because the government has to do less and platforms are very good in regulating those markets, but it also raises new questions about the responsibility of those platforms, the privacy of the users, whether the taxes are being paid and so forth so, that’s why I say it’s a very timely topic for governments, how they have to regulate those platforms.
I can imagine, that’s very interesting and which ones were your main findings.
Well we looked at car sharing, we looked at home sharing, we looked at Uber taxis and cleaning platforms and the first finding is that it really depends on the sector and the platform you look at what are the positives and what are negatives, and the second finding is that the main political issue now emerging is the labor issue, the question whether the people who now freelance through those platforms should not be actually considered as employees of those platforms because the platform’s yeah exert so much power over them, that’s from a legal point of view, it looks very much like an employer-employee relationship ,so that were the main the main findings.
Thank you for that, it is very interesting and I want to know what was your personal motivation? Are you an Uber user?
Not an Uber user but a car sharing person, so I started renting a car from a car sharing organization back in 2013, and that was at a time in the Netherlands that uber and airbnb were about to start and then I got interested in the whole phenomenon and started reading about it and starting researching it and my personal interest is that is this is typical and disruptive innovation, a big innovation where it is not very clear in the beginning what are all the effects, but also not clear how you want to regulate it because without regulation I think this will create too much problems, but you also don’t want to forbid it but you want to find new regulations that maximize the benefits, but also mitigate the problems that we see.
This can be said is like a hot topic now so, which ones would you say are their key implications for policy making?
Well what we do in the paper is that we give the policymaker four options, two extreme options are let it go and in the beginning that’s what you basically do because you have to learn about it and many platforms never grow big anyway so you don’t need to regulate it. The other extreme option is to forbid it and in many cases you can forbid it because the existing laws do not allow people for example just to rent out their home but forbidding and so enforcing the law is very hard because there are now millions of people doing this and you can’t trace the actions of million people so you have to go in between, let it go and forbidding and which can be to deregulate, so remove some of the regulations that are existing and give people more freedom to run their own lives and to run their own businesses, this has a disadvantage that some protections are lifted, but it has the advantage that as a government you can better enforce the few regulations that remain or you can think of new regulations and that’s then the hard part, what are the smart regulations to introduce and how do you enforce them, so one example famous examples, AirB&B where most cities say it’s allowed but only up till 30 days per year or 60 days per year and then you kind of balance the benefits for local residents to rent out their home when there are away, but also don’t t let it go and have people rent out their home for a whole year and running basically a hotel so you have to find a balanced approach to regulation.
That’s a fascinating topic, thank you very much again finding the right balance regulation is very important, so thank you for your insights and I wish you all the best for your future research and hope to see you again in a coffee break.
Thank you for watching, if you’re interested in more details about this academic publication please find here the link below and see you next time bye byeTags: Airbnb, gig economy, Regulation, sharing economy, Uber