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Regulation and Competition Policy in the Digital Economy


Course Goals and Overview

Regulation and competition policy play an important role in the digital economy. In this seminar, we will examine this role and seek to answer questions such as: Why are some digital markets regulated and some are not? What is the difference between competition policy and regulation? How can policy makers ensure competition and protect consumers in digital markets? What makes regulation and competition policy challenging in the digital economy?   

We will first look at the economic theory of regulation and apply it to the regulation of digital markets. We will examine why governments choose to regulate certain markets, what are their goals and how they can achieve those goals. In a second step, we will look at the question how governments can ensure sufficient competition in digital markets without regulating them explicitly. This is an important question since in many digital markets, we observe very dominant firms such as Google, Facebook or Microsoft, but regulating them too strictly might decrease their innovativeness.

Course Structure

In two introductory sessions, students will be given an overview of the economic theory of regulation and competition policy. Special attention will be given to recent cases from digital markets. Basic concepts from microeconomics and game theory will be used, at a level accessible for both students in economics and management. After the introductory sessions, students will be assigned topics for seminar theses. These topics will include question such:  Does Amazon abuse its dominant position? Should Net Neutrality be abolished? Should regulators allow the entry of Uber into the German Taxi-Market? Is Google Search a Natural Monopoly? How large is the market power of Facebook?  How to regulated the Sharing Economy (e.g. AirBnB)? The final grading will be based on a 15 minute oral presentation (30%) and a 10-page written seminar thesis (70%). Although the performance of students in the presentations will be graded, the main goal is to give students feedback on their progress and to give them guidance towards writing their seminar thesis.


The course will be held in English.


Kick-off: Friday, April 13, 2018: 08:00 – 13:00; Universitätsstr. 91; Room 1.31 (“Seminarraum im Atrium”)
Second Session: Friday, April 27, 2018, 08:00 – 10:00; Universitätsstr. 91; Room 1.31 (“Seminarraum im Atrium”)

Presentations: Thursday, June 8, 2018: 8:00 – 18:00; Universitätsstr. 91; Room 1.31 (“Seminarraum im Atrium”)

Examination 70% Written assignment (10-page seminar theses) and oral presentation (15 minutes). Deadline for seminar theses: tba


Dainis Zegners (d.zegners(at)


Baldwin, R., Cave, M., Lodge M. (2011), Understanding Regulation: Theory, Strategy, and Practice. Oxford University Press.

Viscusi, K., Harrington, J., Vernon, J. (2005), Economics of Regulation and Antitrust, MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

Train, K. (1991), Optimal Regulation, MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

Motta, M. (2004), Competition Policy: Theory and Practice. Cambridge University Press.

Knieps, G. (2005), Wettbewerbsökonomie, Springer Verlag.