Russia–Brazil Academic Cooperation: We Have More in Common than Not
In May 2022, Prof. Eduardo Pontual Ribeiro from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, conducted an online master class for early-career researchers at HSE University on ‘Research in Economics of Multi-Sided Platforms’, which included feedback on research papers on the topic. The HSE News Service talked to Prof. Ribeiro and Prof. Svetlana Golovanova, who organised the event on behalf of HSE University, about this format of academic cooperation.
Svetlana Golovanova is a Professor at the Department of Economic Theory and Econometrics, Faculty of Economics (HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod), and Leading Research Fellow at the Institute for Industrial and Market Studies Laboratory of Competition and Antimonopoly Policy.
Our cooperation with Prof. Eduardo Pontual Ribeiro started back in 2014, when I, together with a team of HSE University peers, participated in the International Conference on Competition and Regulation ‘Advances in the Analysis of Competition Policy and Regulation’. It is a respected conference organised by CRESSE, an international network of lawyers and economists who study competitive law. There, we met Prof. Ribeiro, who at the time was Commissioner at Brazilian Competition Authority (CADE) and Professor of Economics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Thanks to the efforts of CRESSE network organiser Prof. Yannis Katsoulacos over the last decade, a strong academic network has formed between competition policy researchers and policy makers from different countries. Our research team is also contributing to this cooperation. In 2017–2018, the HSE Department of Applied Economics organised the session ‘Competition Policy: Comparative Perspectives of Developed and Developing Jurisdictions’ as part of the Second Congress of Comparative Economics (HSE University in St Petersburg) and the international workshop ‘Economic Analysis and Competition Law Enforcement’ (HSE University in Moscow) that brought together colleagues from Brazil, Greece, Columbia, India, France, and South Africa. Our long joint work resulted in several papers published in leading international journals, and now we are working on a new joint research project.
Prof. Ribeiro’s master class is the first in a series of academic events planned for his visit to HSE University in June 2022. We are also looking forward to an open lecture and several working meetings for our joint study.
This will be Prof. Ribeiro’s fourth visit to HSE University. In 2018 and 2019, he organised workshops for early-career researchers on market analysis with a focus of econometric methods. Prof. Ribeiro’s experience is unique, because he has deep theoretical knowledge as a university professor on the one hand, and experience of applying this knowledge in real life as a former CADE Commissioner on the other.
Master Classes with Feedback Are a Fruitful Format of Academic Cooperation
When we were planning academic events with Prof. Ribeiro’s participation this year, he asked a question that determined the format of the master class. He said: ‘What are the demands of the researchers? What can I talk about in order to be as useful as possible?’ This is how we decided to base the topic on demand. Platform economics is a vast area of research. We decided to focus on the areas suggested by participants. Out of nine applications, we chose six papers to discuss, and used their topics to compile the event programme. As a result of the discussion, each participant received recommendations on the further development of their study. In June, Prof. Ribeiro is planning to hold the second round of the event in order to discuss new achievements and new questions from the researchers.
We received applications from other universities in addition to HSE University. All project proposals were good, and it was difficult to choose. The main criterion for our choice was synergy—an opportunity for all master class participants to exchange ideas.
International academic cooperation is not only a foundation for scientific thought development. It is also a way to understand each other despite cultural differences or disagreements between countries in economics and politics. Together with Prof. Ribeiro and a few other international colleagues, we have been working for many years on a comparative study of competition law enforcement in different countries (European and BRICS countries). This collaboration was not interrupted during the pandemic; we are continuing it now, despite international geopolitical tensions. I won’t go into too much detail on the research itself, but would like to emphasise our main conclusion: we have more in common than not.
Eduardo Pontual Ribeiro
Eduardo Pontual Ribeiro is a Professor of Economics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Co-Coordinator of the Research Group on Competition, Law and Economics (GDEC-IE). He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Illinois (1996). He served as a Commissioner at the CADE Tribunal (Administrative Council for Economic Defense) from 2012 to 2014. He was Assistant Professor at UFRGS and Deputy Chief Economist and Chief Economist at CADE. The areas of his expertise are Applied Microeconometrics, Competition Policy, and Labor Markets.
Multi-Sided Platforms as a New Economy Driver
My cooperation with HSE University started at international economic meetings that HSE scholars and I attended. As developing economies and young jurisdictions on competition policy, discussion of the comparisons, difficulties and ideas of the analysis of industries and cases in Brazil and Russia (and other BRICS countries) evolved. The extensive support of HSE University for internationalisation and visits from abroad were key to facilitating person-to-person contact and very rich discussions. The collaboration has led to the publication of a number of papers in highly ranked international journals. More are on their way.
Technology and digitalisation have opened up new ways of doing business. The development of mobile devices, the increase in computing power and the plummeting prices of data transfer have allowed entrepreneurs to see solutions to old business information problems, providing new services and new business models, often trading on attention.
In this fast-moving environment, students should be prepared to use economic logic and analytical tools to identify the fundamentals and driving forces of business essentials.
Some of the ideas have been explored in certain markets for a long time, such as newspapers and TV. What has changed is the breadth of the applications and the scope of the business opportunities. The fundamental economic toolkit of demand supply, firm incentives, consumer demand and information theory adapted to new business characteristics of cross-network effects and cost structures are useful tools for navigating new business models.
There are many sectors that can benefit from ways to reduce transaction costs. Some examples with consolidated and large platforms are based on standard retail of goods, whether books, computer parts, or things in general—material goods. Multi-sided platforms can thrive in many markets where interaction faces difficulties. For example, there is labour intermediation and human resource procurement, where platforms are still shifting. Road freight procurement too. It depends on the country and market, but any market where there is a large number of suppliers that need to find sellers can have marketplaces. And we should think also of firms that provide services to marketplaces, such as payment systems, order tracking and others.
Knowledge Needs the Exchange of Ideas to Develop
Conversations, arguments put back and forth, assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of different arguments can only be achieved with interactions. Different perspectives provide fresh looks and insights into surprisingly common economic forces across countries and sectors. And it starts with the curiosity and dedication of highly skilled personnel to build a knowledge edifice. With the class, we had a chance to expand knowledge—both in terms of ideas presented and ideas received and discussed.
Everyone interested is welcome to attend Prof. Ribeiro’s lecture in June:
June 22, ‘Economic Policy towards Multisided Digital Platforms: International Context’
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