“The rise of the digital service economy in European regions” provides a comprehensive conceptualisation of the digital service economy and documents how this new way of doing business is gaining ground across Europe. The proposed conceptualisation entails an extensive range of businesses enabled by digital platforms. These businesses blur the boundaries between products and services, with the latter not only complementing the former but also substituting them. The digital service economy generates new benefits for users, creates new economic actors and new value creation models. The authors identify three value creation models within the digital service economy:
- product-service economy – strategy through which manufacturers offer services to their customers along with the products they buy. Such services could include technological training or consultancy.
- sharing economy – the creation of new online markets for underutilised assets (e.g. a spare seat in a car, a spare bedroom, spare time) which are made temporarily accessible to other users upon payment on the basis of a peer-to-peer exchange (BlaBlaCar, TaskRabbit, Airbnb)
- online service economy – a situation in which digital platforms provide services, products or content (e.g. mobility solutions, food and beverage services, payment) without owning assets necessary to produce or deliver such services and goods. This value creation model rests on the dematerialisation of assets or products enabled by the unbundling of products from the service a product can provide (Deliveroo, Uber)
The authors mapped the spread of different value creation models across Europe and found that:
- in most European regions a specific value creation model is pervasive. All forms of digital service economy are present only in the largest urban areas
- the sharing economy model is present in both advanced and relatively marginal regions
- the product-service economy is widely diffused in regions with a strong industrial specialisation profile
- the online service economy is well distributed across European countries and includes several intermediate areas
- marginal and less-developed regions are not affected by the new value creation models
The identification and assessment of the effects of the different digital service economy value creation models is extremely important for policymakers. The regions most exposed to the digital service economy are more likely to face important trade-offs between the economic opportunities it creates and the costs it can generate, in terms of widening inequalities and labour market problems. For these regions, the rise in inequalities can be an urgent and immediate issue requiring timely policy intervention.
(2022) The rise of the digital service economy in European regions,Industry and Innovation,