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Taming Platform Power: Taking Accountability into Account in the Management of Platforms, Academy of Management Annals

Abstract

Research on multisided platforms has emphasized how platform owners accumulate significant power over other platform actors, such as producers and customers, arguing for the need to balance such power with accountability. We review two perspectives on platform accountability: (a) a bottom-up, emergent perspective that focuses on the collective action taken by lower-powered platform actors such as producers (e.g., gig workers, app developers) to enhance rule adequacy and push back against platform owners’ power; and (b) a top-down, institutional perspective that emphasizes preventing extractive opportunism and maintaining a level playing field among different platform actors by enabling legal, regulatory, and governance changes. The bottom-up perspective’s overarching focus is on procedural (rule-focused) fairness, while the top-down perspective’s focus is largely on distributive (outcome-focused) fairness. While both perspectives are important, they have limitations regarding platform accountability, especially given the power and informational asymmetries inherent among platformactors. Therefore, synthesizing across literatures, we provide a framework for platform accountability that accounts for both procedural and distributive fairness, and is based on a fundamental premise: multisided platforms require multisided accountability systems. Thus, our review proposes an approach for enforcing platform accountability that has the potential to rebalance the power between high-powered and low-powered platform actors.

Type

Article

Author(s)

Hatim Rahman, Arvind Karunakaran, Lindsey Cameron

Date Published

2024

Citations

Rahman, Hatim, Arvind Karunakaran, and Lindsey Cameron. 2024. Taming Platform Power: Taking Accountability into Account in the Management of Platforms. Academy of Management Annals. 18(1): 251-294.

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