13th ZEW Conference on the Economics of Information and Communication Technologies


Sinan Aral, MIT Sloan School, during his keynote speech

Some 60 international participants attended the ZEW Conference "The Economics of Information and Communication Technologies" on June 12 and 13, 2015, to discuss current research into the economics of ICT and ICT industries. The internationally established conference, organised by the ZEW Research Department "Information and Communication Technologies" and partly funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), took place in Mannheim for the 13th time.

Among the three keynote speakers of this year's conference was Sinan Aral from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He explores how the behaviour of friends, family, and colleagues – referred to as 'peers' – impacts individuals. Aral uses data of a running app developed by a sporting goods manufacturer which enables users to record their running data and share it with their peers. The results show that the running activity of a peer significantly increases own running activity, both in terms of running distance and speed. Such peer effects could also play a role in other areas of healthcare, e.g. in connection with protective measures against HIV. Shane Greenstein (Northwestern University, Evanston, US) presented his research findings on the quality of public knowledge goods using the examples of Wikipedia and the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The keynote speech by Markus Mobius (Microsoft Research, Cambridge, US) analysed the effects of social media and news aggregators on the consumption of online news.

In several parallel sessions, topics such as big data analytics, online markets and auctions, social networks, crowdfunding, consumer behaviour in a digital environment as well as the digitalisation of companies and work processes were addressed and discussed. Furthermore, three sessions, organised by Florian Stahl (University of Mannheim), Julian Wright (National University of Singapore) and Mike Ward (University of Texas at Arlington, US), were dedicated to social media and advertising, search engines, and the video games industry.

Altogether, the conference featured 33 presentations and subsequent discussions. The conference received funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG).