Working paper Open Access

Digital Platforms in the Global South: Foundations and Research Agenda

Koskinen, Kari; Bonina, Carla; Eaton, Ben

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. Despite their significant presence in the global South, the developmental implications of digital platforms remain largely understudied. In part, this is because digital platforms are a challenging research object due to their lack of conceptual definition, their spread across different regions and industries, and their intertwined nature with institutions, actors and digital technologies. The aim of this working paper is therefore threefold: to provide a conceptual definition of digital platforms, to scope their study, and to identify research strands in international development contexts. To contribute to future research in the domain, we present four research questions, illustrated with some concrete examples, which can assist in the conduct of relevant studies on digital platforms in the global South.

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