Competition in Digital Markets

Course overview

The digital sector has become pervasive in our economies and has transformed our lives in many (often positive) respects. But there are increasing concerns that competition in digital markets does not work properly, leading to the creation of dominant platforms with persistent market power. This in turn may make it difficult for rivals to challenge the position of the incumbents and may not deliver to consumers the benefits that a truly open market would provide. Antitrust authorities have been increasingly investigating practices adopted by these dominant platforms, but there is also a debate on the extent to which competition law may be able to intervene, and how. Merger control in digital industries is another hot topic, as hundreds of acquisitions made by the big tech platforms (largely gone under the radar of the authorities) have allegedly prevented competitors from challenging the dominant digital platforms.

The BSE Intensive Course on Competition in Digital Markets offers the opportunity to understand how the digital economy works, and under what conditions competition may not function as it should in this sector. It provides participants with a thorough understanding of how to evaluate the substitutability between different offerings and when to view practices such as tying, exclusive contracts, price-parity clauses, and discriminatory access to platforms as anti-competitive (but also explain in what circumstances they are likely to be beneficial). It also offers a framework to address mergers and acquisitions of smaller and/or potential competitors, to evaluate their possible anti-competitive and pro-competitive effects and to identify when they should be approved and when not. The course will include constant references to a number of recent cases in the digital industries, as well as a detailed review of some high-profile cases in different jurisdictions.

The course faculty includes leading international competition scholars and practitioners with extensive experience in the application of economic techniques to competition cases in this area.

Course director

facultyMassimo Motta
PhD, Université Catholique de Louvain


Key benefits

  • Review established and recent economic theories on how digital markets work through a largely non-formal exposition also accessible to non-economists
  • Identify the distinguishing economic features and likely effects of practices adopted by platforms
  • Understand why big data and algorithms matter  
  • Learn how to work with big datasets and use quantitative techniques to analyze big data
  • Understand (i) optimal bidding strategies for advertisers in different auction formats, (ii) optimal selling mechanisms for online platforms, and (iii) strategic opportunities for digital marketing agencies.
  • Acquire the tools to apply a sound economic approach to antitrust cases in the digital sector
  • Learn to structure potential theories of harm and/or defences in an economically coherent way
  • Acquire the ability to critically evaluate economic analysis and submissions in antitrust matters
  • Discuss proposed regulatory policies on data and platforms

Next edition TBA

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