Harnessing Platform Cooperatives to Reconcile the Digital and Social Economies
Online Platform Enterprises such as Uber are now ubiquitous. How can these initiatives stemming from the digital economy be squared with aspirations for a European social economy?
Developments in digital technologies have disrupted many traditional industries and market sectors. Conventional businesses had to cut costs as a result of competition from internet-based companies that do not have brick-and-mortar stores, such as Amazon or Bol.com. Others had to rethink their strategies and financial models due to new online platforms providing similar services but without the burden of having to pay for their own assets and employees, such as Uber and Airbnb. These platforms utilise the labour and assets (i.e. cars and homes) of people who make use of the platform. Although the European Union has underscored the importance of vitalising the digital economy in its Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan and other policy frameworks, believing that nourishing online enterprises will curb (youth) unemployment, the question is: what kind of jobs are being created by the digital economy? How can these initiatives stemming from the digital economy be squared with the EC’s aspirations for the European social economy? This is a particularly pressing issue in the case of online platform enterprises.