Digital Platforms for Development: Foundations and Research Agenda

Carla Bonina*, Kari Koskinen, Ben Eaton, Annabelle Gawer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Digital platforms hold a central position in today's world economy and are said to offer a great potential for the economies and societies in the global South. Yet, to date, the scholarly literature on digital platforms has largely concentrated on business while their developmental implications remain 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 purpose of this article is to contribute to the ongoing debate in information systems and ICT4D research to understand what digital platforms mean for development. To do so, we first define what digital platforms are and differentiate between transaction and innovation platforms, and explain their key characteristics in terms of purpose, research foundations, material properties and business models. We add the socio‐technical context digital platforms operate and the linkages to developmental outcomes. We then conduct an extensive review to explore what current areas, developmental goals, tensions and issues emerge in the literature on platforms and development and identify relevant gaps in our knowledge. We later elaborate on six research questions to advance the studies on digital platforms for development: on indigenous innovation, digital platforms and institutions, on exacerbation of inequalities, on alternative forms of value, on the dark side of platforms and on the applicability of the platform typology for development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Number of pages34
ISSN1350-1917
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 28. Januar 2021

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