Professor Bedre-Defolie, you are joining the EUI as a Joint Chair in Microeconomics. What will your role entail?
I am an applied microeconomist focusing on puzzling real-world problems in markets and building micro theory models to solve them. I see my role as a catalyst between the Economics Department and the Robert Schuman Centre to have a mutually collaborative and beneficial relationship. Firstly, I would like to bring in knowledge from the most recent academic research in economics to inform important and impactful policy questions that researchers and faculty at the Schuman Centre would like to address. Secondly, I would like to borrow knowledge and experience from the Centre's interdisciplinary research environment to inform economics research. The Schuman Centre is a very large research centre which brings together knowledge to address important policy relevant questions in diverse fields such as economics, political science, law, and governance. This is a unique opportunity for me. My research focuses on digital markets. Over the years, economic interactions have become more efficient as transaction costs have reduced significantly. However, the digitalisation of markets is also posing significant and pressing challenges for policy makers, as it radically changed markets' competitive environment and its dynamics.
In 2020 you were awarded the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) grant to "investigate optimal variety and quality provision by digital platforms". Could you tell us more about it?
My ERC project title is 'Digital Platforms: Pricing, Variety, and Quality Provision (DIPVAR)'. It offers an in-depth look at business models of globally operating digital platforms, such as marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba, App Stores of Apple, and Google. The project firstly develops theoretical models identifying these platforms' most peculiar aspects and key trade-offs. It then analyses the effects of dominant platforms' practices, such as vertical integration, contracts with third party sellers/providers, fees collected from third parties and consumers on prices, variety, and quality provision on these platforms. It also studies the competition dynamics between dominant platforms and their smaller rivals or new entrants. The project ultimately makes recommendations for an effective competition policy and regulation of digital markets, which can greatly improve consumer welfare both in the European Union and elsewhere by illustrating effective tools to prevent distortions on prices, quality, variety, and innovation in digital markets.
What are your goals during your time at the EUI? What are you most looking forward to?
My main goal is to enrich my research and teaching experience, building on existing knowledge in the excellent academic environment of the EUI Economics Department and the Robert Schuman Centre. I would like to progress on my ERC project by interacting with high quality faculty and research fellows. I also would like to go a step further in my career by supervising more PhD researchers and collaborating with more research fellows, exploiting my expertise in research and bridging new lines across different fields of economics and social sciences. I very much hope to contribute by training and inspiring young researchers to work on challenging and interesting problems of our societies. Finally, using the unique relations of EUI with European policy makers, I would like to have a more active role in shaping competition policy and regulation policies concerning digital markets.