Student Theses and Projects: Online Domination of Global Platforms: A Qualitative Study on Causes and Effects


Thesis (MA/DA); Reference-number: 2017-179

Advisor(s): Sebastian Hermes


Platforms have created entire new marketplaces. They comprise service platforms like Uber and Airbnb, communication platforms like WhatsApp and WeChat, social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, product platforms like Amazon and Alibaba, content platforms like Youtube and Youku, open source operating systems like Linux and Android, and much more. These platforms are increasingly being controlled by American and Chinese operators. In the future, the Internet of Things will make platforms even more crucial for our daily lives, even if we rarely interact with it as individuals. Intelligent cars for example can interact with road and traffic conditions, inform users about necessary repairs or call emergency aid in the event of an accident. Controlling these platforms has become extremely profitable. For example, the airline reservation systems of Sabre and Apollo were able to extract revenues approaching the full marginal profit on flights sold through the platform, even when that surpassed the average profit of the airlines. The aim of this thesis is therefore to investigate the causes of American and Chinese domination, the impact on European firms, and to derive measures for the EU to counteract such domination.


  • Conducting a literature review on externalities of platform business models.
  • Conducting at least 20 interviews comprising Startups, SMEs, and MNEs of various industries and nations. German companies are not desired. A preliminary interview guide is provided.
  • Determining the source of American and Chinese domination, the current and future impact on European companies, and actions to counteract American and Chinese domination 


  • High degree of autonomy and individual responsibility
  • Interest and experience in qualitative research
  • Very good grades and a good command of English language are beneficial 


Edelman, B., and Luca, M. "Digital Discrimination: The Case of" Harvard Business School, Working Paper, No. 14-054, (Jan. 2014).

Parker, G. G., and Van Alstyne, M. W. (2005). Two-sided network effects: A theory of information product design. Management science, 51(10), 1494-1504.

Kosinski, M. et al. “Mining Big Data to Extract Patterns and Predict Real-Life Outcomes”, Psychological Methods, Vol. 21, No. 4, (Dec. 2016) pp. 493-506.

Clemons, E. K. and Wilson, J. “Modeling Competition in Mandatory Participation Third Party Payer Business Models: The Complex Case of Sponsored Search”, (Eric K. Clemons, Josh Wilson), Proceedings, 49th International Conference on System Sciences, Wailea, Hawaii, January 2016).

Clemons, E. K, and Madhani, N. “Regulation of Digital Businesses with Natural Monopolies Or Third Party Payment Business Models: Antitrust Lessons from the Analysis of Google,” Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 27 No. 3, (2010), pp. 43-80.

Further Information

The topic can be adopted according to your interests. The thesis can be written in English or German. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Please send your application including our application form, "Notenauszug" from TUMonline, and CV to Please note that we can only consider applications with complete documents.