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Understanding the transformation of market ecosystems

This research theme focuses on understanding processes that form and transform markets. A key starting point is the recognition that markets are heterogeneous phenomena that can be made to work in very different ways and that are called on to deliver a variety of values. Similarly, there is not simply one version of market-based society. Indeed, what kind of market-based society and what kinds of markets we want are key questions for the future.

The neo-liberal project has led to a gradual expansion of markets to new areas and across the globe, and to a related domestication of those markets through increased monitoring and regulation. The expansion of market society has also caused a multiplication of interconnected markets, forming increasingly complex market ecosystems. At the same time, market-based society is currently questioned from both the political left and right. Against this backdrop of expansion, growing complexity and political questioning, the challenges posed by climate change and digitalization stand out as key contemporary drivers of change, triggering the formation of a range of new markets as well as the disruption and transformation of existing ones.

These changing and complex market ecosystems that make up contemporary market-based society, and that are called on to deliver new ‘goods’ as well as criticized for delivering ‘bads’, constitute the backdrop for this research theme. Our primary focus is to identify and explain patterns of change in these market ecosystems. Questions of interest include:

  • Are market ecosystems transforming towards greater sustainability? If so, how? What boundaries are drawn in order to make such assessments?
  • What market ecosystem transformations are ushered in by digitalization? How does this influence the interaction and division of labor between the private and public spheres?
  • How can digital transformation be used to enhance environmental, social and economic sustainability? Given that half of the world's population does not currently participate in the digital economy at all, (how) can this reshaping of market ecosystems produce a more inclusive, sustainable and trustworthy world?
  • How are the (digital and physical) infrastructures of contemporary market ecosystems changing and/or driving market transformation?
  • What roles does market regulation (broadly defined to include both norms and laws) play in such transformations? What forms does it (need to) take? What consequences do different regulatory efforts have? How do regulatory bodies achieve legitimacy in an increasingly fraught geo-political context?
  • What are the power bases and power consequences for different stakeholder groups of market ecosystem transformations, e.g. for incumbent buyers and sellers, entrants, regulators, third parties?
  • What strategic levers are available to drive/reshape market ecosystems? What viable strategies exist for incumbents and entrants? How does business model innovation relate to and contribute to market ecosystem transformations?