Ringvorlesung im Herbstsemester 2020


Mit dem Begriff Digitalökonomie bezeichnet man gemeinhin die zunehmende und branchen­übergreifende Technologisierung der Wirtschafts­welt, bspw. durch vermehrten Einsatz von Datenverarbeitung oder intensivere Vernetzung von Geräten. Diese Entwicklung führt zu nachhaltigen Veränderungen von Geschäfts­modellen, Strukturen und Prozessen, die unser aller Leben beeinflussen, ob als Arbeitnehmer oder Konsument. Sie bietet Chancen, wie neue oder verbesserte Produkte und Dienstleistungen oder auch modernere Arbeits­bedingungen, birgt jedoch auch Risiken, wie sie z. B. im Begriff „gläserner Kunde“ zum Ausdruck kommen.

Im Rahmen der Ringvorlesung des Herbstsemesters 2020 behandeln internationale Referenten diese und angrenzende Themenfelder aus unter­schiedlichen, dabei stets volkswirtschaft­lich geprägten Perspektiven. Die Veranstaltungen finden zu unter­schiedlichen Zeiten online statt. Nähere Informationen finden Sie weiter unten. Studierende aller Fakultäten sowie externe Gäste sind zu allen Veranstaltungen herzlich eingeladen.

7. Oktober 2020 um 19.00 Uhr:
Prof. Shane M. Greenstein (Harvard University):
“How the internet became commercial“


In less than a decade, the internet went from being a series of loosely connected networks used by universities and the military to the powerful commercial engine it is today. This talk first describes how many of the key innovations made this possible. It will then discuss how mainstream service providers that had traditionally been leaders in the old-market economy became threatened by innovations from industry outsiders who saw economic opportunities where others didn’t – and how these mainstream firms had no choice but to innovate themselves. New models were tried: some succeeded, some failed. Commercial markets turned innovations into valuable products and services as the Internet evolved in those markets. New business processes had to be created from scratch as a network originally intended for research and military defense had to deal with network interconnectivity, the needs of commercial users, and a host of challenges with implementing innovative new services.


Shane Greenstein is the Martin Marshall Professor of Business Administration and co-chair of the HBS Digital Initiative. He teaches in the Technology, Operations and Management Unit. Professor Greenstein is also co-director of the program on the economics of digitization at The National Bureau of Economic Research.

Encompassing a wide array of questions about computing, communication, and Internet markets, Professor Greenstein’s research extends from economic measurement and analysis to broader issues. His most recent book focuses on the development of the commercial Internet in the United States. He also publishes commentary on his blog, Digitopoly, and his work has been covered by media outlets ranging from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to Fast Company and PC World.

Professor Greenstein previously taught at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, and at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign. He received his PhD from Stanford University in 1989 and his BA from University of California at Berkeley in 1983, both in economics. He continues to receive a daily education in life from his wife and children.

28. Oktober 2020 um 18.00 Uhr:
Prof. Neil Gandal (Tel Aviv University):
“An examination of the cryptocurrency pump and dump eco­system“

Abstract (of the paper “An examination of the cryptocurrency pump and dump eco­system”):

The surge of interest in cryptocurrencies has been accompanied by a proliferation of fraud. This paper examines pump and dump schemes. The recent explosion of nearly 2,000 cryptocurrencies in an unregulated environment has expanded the scope for abuse. We quantify the scope of cryptocurrency pump and dump schemes on Discord and Telegram, two popular group-messaging platforms. We joined all relevant Telegram and Discord groups/channels and identified thousands of different pumps. Our findings provide the first measure of the scope of such pumps and empirically document important properties of this eco­system.


Professor Neil Gandal is Professor of Economics at the Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University. He received his B.A. and B.S. degrees from Miami University (Ohio) in 1979, his M.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1981, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989. Professor Gandal has published numerous papers in industrial organisation, the economics of information technology, and the economics of the software & internet industries. He is the first (and only) Honorary Editor at the International Journal of Industrial Organization. He is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

11. November 2020 um 19.00 Uhr:
Prof. Imke Reimers, Ph.D. (Northeastern University):
“Digitization and Pre-Purchase Information: The Causal and Welfare Impacts of Reviews and Crowd Ratings”

(the paper is co-authored with Joel Waldfogel)



Digitization has led to a large number of new creative products, straining the capacity of professional critics and consumers to identify the best products. Yet, the digitization of retailing has also delivered new crowd-based sources of pre-purchase information. We compare the relative impacts of professional critics and crowd-based Amazon star ratings on consumer welfare in book publishing. Using various fixed effects and discontinuity-based empirical strategies, we find that both types of pre-purchase information significantly affect purchasing behavior. We use these causal estimates to calibrate structural demand models for measuring their welfare impacts. The aggregate effect of the existence of star ratings on consumer surplus is, in our baseline estimates, more than ten times the effect of traditional review outlets. Crowd-based information now accounts for the vast majority of pre-purchase information, but the absolute effects of professional reviews have not declined over time.


Prof. Imke Reimers is an associate professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. She is broadly interested in the industrial organization of digital markets, information, and intellectual property. Her research mainly focuses on two specific questions: 1) how do copyright and other forms of intellectual property affect access to information; and 2) how does information technology affect consumer and firm decisions as well as the functioning and efficiency of markets? Professor Reimers received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Minnesota in 2013 and her B.S. in economics and mathematics from the University of Nebraska in 2008. She spent a year at the National Bureau of Economic Research in the digitization and copyright program before beginning as an assistant professor in economics at Northeastern. In 2019, she also became a U.S. national champion tennis player in her age group.

25. November 2020 um 18.00 Uhr:
Prof. Joshua S. Gans (University of Toronto):
“The Specialness of Zero“


A model is provided whereby a monopolist firm chooses to price its product at zero. This outcome is shown to be driven by the assumption of „free disposal“ alongside selection markets (where prices impact on a firm's costs). Free disposal creates a mass point of consumers whose utility from the product is zero. When costs are negative, the paper shows that a zero price equilibrium can emerge. The paper shows that this outcome can be socially optimal and that, while a move from monopoly to competition can result in a negative price equilibrium, this can be welfare reducing. The conclusion is that zero can be a „special zone“ with respect to policy analysis such as in antitrust.


Joshua Gans is a Professor of Strategic Management and holder of the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneur­ship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto (with a cross appointment in the Department of Economics). Joshua is also Chief Economist of the University of Toronto's Creative Destruction Lab. Prior to 2011, he was the foundation Professor of Management (Information Economics) at the Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne and prior to that he was at the School of Economics, University of New South Wales. In 2011, Joshua was a visiting researcher at Microsoft Research (New England). Joshua holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and an honors degree in economics from the University of Queensland. In 2012, Joshua was appointed as a Research Associate of the NBER in the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneur­ship Program.


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