Innovations in information and communication technology (ICT) are having an enormous impact on the creation and diffusion of information; connectivity; societal interaction; institutional structures; production methods, manufacturing and services supply; or competition among undertakings
The multiplicity of social interaction instances beyond traditional boundaries and territorial restrictions and the ensuing production of big amounts of data create economic opportunities but can also potentially impinge on fundamental rights or societal values and preferences. Sustainability considerations; problems of exclusion and entry barriers that smaller firms are unable to surmount; access-related issues to basic services for the most vulnerable societal groups; privacy considerations; the protection of basic economic liberties and the maintenance of incentives for investment in innovation and creativity are some of the grand challenges that States and regulatory authorities are confronted with at the European and global level. Traditionally, the State would deploy authorities that mediate between the polity and the economy, such as agencies, supervisory authorities and regulators, or instruments, which traditionally include market design, regulation and spending, with their respective manifold variants, including public procurement and State trading. However, technical changes such as distributed ledger technologies, blockchain or other peer-to-peer variants reinforce disintermediation. Such phenomena call into question not only public regulation but also the existing market design in several sectors such as banking or insurance. Their aterritorial character also calls for an exploration of the continuous need for and the nature of regulation.
We understand ‘governance of economic activity’ to refer to the way the actions of private actors (individuals, firms, associations, civil society organizations) as well as public actors (legislators, regulators, courts) at varying regulatory levels interact. Such interplay must be taken into account whenever designing and implementing economic policies or assessing economic outcomes. Digitalization, powered by highly complex technologies, algorithms, gathering of data and powerful machines and computers, only complicates the equation and calls for more sophisticated analysis and the identification of new interdisciplinary and empirical methods and techniques.
Against this background, TILEC prioritizes its research interests by focusing on the full use of the expertise of its researchers related to the themes of institutions, competition, innovation, and, when appropriate, sector-specific regulation. It is our common belief that understanding the nature of the interactions among economic agents, institutions and policy instruments used to resolve complex economic problems and market distortions accentuated by digitalization, automation or the use of artificial intelligence will yield significant results in terms of improving the functioning of economic activity. This can be done through the identification of appropriate governance structures in markets increasingly driven by big amounts of data. The research themes chosen are closely connected with one another and are expected to generate results that are relevant for more than one theme. We are confident that addressing the challenges that arise within these themes will be key to building a healthy, sustainable, and resilient society.