"Decentralized Platforms & The Crypto Economy"



Lehrstuhl für Innovation, Strategie und Organisation
Bachelor; Master



Digital platforms have changed the competitive landscape of companies in many industries and also the day-to-day lives of many individuals. They have become the most powerful companies to date, especially relying on two factors: first, a powerful position as a central node, or intermediary, within the respective platform ecosystem. Second, a fast and highly personalized data-driven ecosystem, business and product/service development.

In recent years, blockchain- and smart contract-based organizations introduced a new way of how platforms can function. They distribute power over rather a large amount of tokenholders crossing traditional boundaries of a firm. This represents a radical governance innovation compared with tradtional governance modes relying on centralized power exercized by few executive members of an organization.

The decentralized digital platforms aim to create fair and participative power structures to the benefit of users and complementing firms. They promise, for example, to enable users to own the data they create on a platform and have a say in how data is treated. Should this prove true, competition for the huge, powerful digital platform monopolies (Amazon, Apple, Google, etc.) could arise.

However, decentralization of governance also comes at a cost in many respects. E.g., there are some doubts regarding the quality and time of strategic decision-making. Further, high distribution of voting power might limit innovation capabilities, esp. speed of such organizations. Practicable governance models are therefore one of the major issues of the infant decentralized economy.


This master thesis aims to analyze different forms of decentralized governance of decentralized digital platforms and its implications for several performance indicators (growth, innovativeness, etc.) - the exact focus would be subject to your interests and can be formulated jointly.
You can conduct the thesis either conceptually, qualitatively or quantitatively based on real blockchain data. Quantitative approaches are highly recommended. Hence, applications for quantitative approaches will be privileged in the selection process.
Bachelor thesis applicants are also warmly invited to apply. Changes to the scope and design of the thesis will be discussed individually.

- Provide a literature overview of (decentralized) digital platform governance systematizations and implications
- Create a systematization of decentralized governance of digital platform (ecosystems)
- Derive propositions regarding the implications from a decentralized governance mode for the performance of digital platforms
- Option 1: Extract, transform and analyze blockchain data for several decentralized platforms to test your propositions/ hypotheses
- Option 2: Theoretically apply your propositions to specific sub-sectors (e.g., DeFi, DePIN) or platform layers (L1s like Ethereum, L2s like Arbitrum or zkSync, dApps) and derive the potential of decentralized governance in the specific context
- Interprete / discuss your results with the goal to contribute both insights for theory on digital platforms and decentralized governance as well as create actionable knowledge for practice



This Bachelor/ Master thesis gives you the chance to analyze an exciting and strongly growing new field of the platform economy: the decentralized economy. You will be working on a topic with highly relevant implications for industries, single platforms but also regarding one of the most pressing economic-social issues of our times (platform power). You will create in-depth expertise in digital platforms, the decentralized economy and develop skills in working with real blockchain data (if quantitative design).
Further, depending on the actual design, this thesis could be created together with one of our institutional partners from the Financial Services Industry.

This thesis will be supervised by Georg Schiffner. He is a doctoral researcher at the TIM Institute with professional and academic experience in Finance/ the Financial industry. One of his major reserach fields are decentralized digital platforms, in particular Decentralized Finance. He will support you along the way in any matters of the thesis (theory ram-up, research design, data access, concept./ quant./ qual. analysis).

Applications from any backgrounds (WiWi, WIng,..) and academic levels (Bachelor, Master) are welcome. Please send your application directly to schiffner@time.rwth-aachen.de, including: CV or LinkedIn profile link and a transcript of records.

Keywords: Digital platforms, Decentralized Platforms, Decentralized Economy, Decentralized Governance, Decentralized Finance, Crypto, Blockchain