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2021/2022  BA-BHAAV6034U  Google, Uber, Amazon: The Management of Platform Businesses

English Title
Google, Uber, Amazon: The Management of Platform Businesses

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course First Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 150
Study board
Study Board for BSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Christina Lubinski - Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy (MPP)
Contact information: student hub
Main academic disciplines
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Globalisation and international business
  • Management
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 06-04-2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • define different types of platform businesses and their characteristics;
  • correctly use analytical frameworks and concepts to analyze platform and networked businesses based on the required readings;
  • have the ability to generate management-relevant insights into how theories from the required readings can help assess business opportunities and risks but also reflect on their limitations;
  • discuss the competitive dynamics in industries with strong network effects and platform businesses.
Google, Uber, Amazon: The Management of Platform Business:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Duration 48 hours to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure

The students will be assigned a case study of a platform business and will be asked to write an essay based on the case.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Google, Uber and Amazon have one thing in common: their business is providing a platform that facilitates users’ interaction. The success and failure of these business models depend to a large degree on the number of people using the platform and the “network effects” between them. Understanding platform businesses, their unique management challenges and competitive dynamics is crucial for students interested in a career in any such industry.


Platform businesses comprise a large and rapidly growing share of the world economy. Such businesses in the computer, consumer electronics, media and internet sector comprise the heart of the so-called “New Economy.” Network effects are at the core of a series of improbable success stories, such as the intense growth of the smartphone-based car service Uber, the enormous user numbers of the Chinese auctioning site Taobao, and the massive advertising revenue that Facebook realized in recent years.


Platform businesses face distinctive management challenges, which differ from those found in traditional manufacturing and service industries. Familiar rules for marketing and strategy may not apply. Pricing strategies for example follow different rules and platform providers often price their products and services below cost – or even given them away for free. Traditional barriers to entry no longer hold. Many of the industries gravitate towards “winner-take-all” competition. They have room for only few large players outperforming all of their competitors, as the spectacular success stories of Facebook, Amazon, and Google show.


The course introduces concepts and frameworks to analyze platform business models and provides a foundation for strategic decision making in them. Using the Harvard Business School case study method, students will discuss real-life cases, their successes, failures and options for the future. After completing the course, student will be able to systematically analyze different platform businesses and evaluate the economic, technological and public policy context for the development of such businesses.

Description of the teaching methods
Case study discussions and exercises.
Feedback during the teaching period
Office hours for feedback.
Expectation horizon (for exam) and frequently made mistakes to be communicated after the exam.
Online feedback on case discussions in video format.
Student workload
Preparation 154 hours
Teaching 38 hours
Examination 16 hours
Expected literature
  • Harvard Business School case studies (to be downloaded.)
  • Parker, Geoffrey, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary. Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.
  • Hagiu, Andrei, and Julian Wright. "Do You Really Want to Be an Ebay?". Harvard Business Review 91, no. 3 (2013): 102-08.
  • Reillier, Laure Claire, and Benoit Reillier. Platform Strategy: How to Unlock the Power of Communities and Networks to Grow Your Business.  New York: Routledge, 2017.
  • McAfee, Andrew, and Erik Brynjolfsson. Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.
Last updated on 06-04-2021