The Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition (CTIC) has secured a $350,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to provide a basis for evidence-based decision-making regarding the economics of digital services. The grant will provide general support for CTIC to research and develop policy on digital vertical integration and the competitive advantages of scale in the digital economy.
The Knight Foundation invests in journalism, the arts, and in cities in which the Knight brothers published newspapers. The funding opportunity through which CTIC secured the grant, “Governance, Norms and Values – Research on the Future Internet,” aims to provide financial backing to “scholarly inquiry and novel approaches that will strengthen our democracy as the digital age progresses.”
“Attitudes towards digital services have changed dramatically over the past few years,” noted Christopher Yoo, John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Communication, and Computer & Information Science and CTIC’s founding director. “The project’s goal is to develop a better understanding of the market dynamics for online services and the business strategies that digital platforms are pursuing. We are grateful for the Knight Foundation’s support to help make this happen.”
The project will be led by Yoo and Rakesh Vohra, George A. Weiss and Lydia Bravo Weiss Professor of Economics and Engineering and founding co-director of the Warren Center for Network & Data Sciences. It will explore two key areas. The first area is the tendency of digital services companies to engage in new forms of vertical integration. The second is digital platforms’ greater reliance on algorithms and data.
To explore these issues, Yoo and Vohra will implement an interdisciplinary effort, leveraging Penn’s Law, Engineering, Wharton and Annenberg Schools and its Department of Economics. Grant funding will be provided to faculty both inside and outside of Penn in order to conduct theoretical and empirical studies on the issues raised by digital platforms. Research results will be shared through training and policy outreach programs as well as conferences, especially those geared toward government officials interested in learning more about the technical and economic underpinnings of modern digital services.
“We hope our efforts will help support an analytically sound assessment of how to regulate digital services,” said Yoo.