The Baltic Region

2018 Vol. 10 № 2

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Platform Markets: Their Place in the Theory of Mesoeconomic System: Development and a Challenge to Spatial Studies



Over the past three decades, researchers across different disciplines have paid close attention to the development of platform markets — an emergent long-term trend in economic policy. I consider platform markets as institutional and technological systems. Platforms create systems of rules and mechanisms that stimulate agents to adopt, maintain, and improve standards disseminated by the most successful platforms. Similarly to economic zones and clusters, platform markets are two-factor mesoeconomic systems. In this article, I consider the differences between two-factor systems and traditional one-factor groupings (agglomerations, industries, and conglomerates). I present a general theoretical framework for studying two-factor mesoeconomic systems, which is employed in a comparative analysis. A specific feature of platforms is the contribution of digital technology to the formalisation of relevant external effects and institutions, whereas economic zones are characterised by the external effects of agglomeration and clusters — by locally specific effects. Platforms are replacing economic zoning and clustering on the research agenda.