Alina Kontareva is a Wisconsin Russia Project Spring 2022 Pre-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Alina is a doctoral fellow at TIK – Center for Technology, Innovation, and Culture at the University of Oslo. In her doctoral dissertation, Alina explores the competition between global and regional platform firms.
Using qualitative methods and multiple data sources, Alina examines social, economic, and political reasons why domestic internet leaders such as Yandex, VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Ozon, and others thrived in Russia. As is the case in the US, China, and Western Europe, these platform firms are also transforming employment relationships in Russia.
Alina is using her pre-doctoral fellowship at UW-Madison to work on the topic of platform employment. Her faculty supervisor is Yoshiko Herrera.
Russia’s Platform Economy in the Time of Crisis: Transformations of Digital Firms’ Strategies
Sanctions imposed on Russia at the beginning of the war in Ukraine are expected to have a tremendous effect on the Russian economy, including the internet segment. This paper examines how Russian platforms such as Yandex, Sber, VK (and its subsidiaries – VKontakte and Odnoklassniki), and others react in a time of radical environmental change.
Previous research demonstrates how sanctions cut off local firms from available resources – new materials, technologies, foreign capital markets, and opportunities to export. In response, firms alter their competitive strategies. They may imitate products/services not available in the sanctioned economy. Alternatively, entrepreneurs respond by innovating and diversifying their portfolios. This paper contributes to this literature by studying platforms – internet firms that mediate transactions between users and generate value from network effects. The paper argues that sanctions limit access to users, capital, technology, and internet infrastructure.
Unlike other national segments, the Russian platform economy is relatively independent of the West because its domestic platforms have dominant market shares in key market segments (search, social media, and e-commerce). While Russian platforms, limited to their home market, do not expect a shortage of users, changes will occur in the quality of the user base. However, the primary concern is the shortage of capital. Russian firms attempt to protect their core products by ceasing non-profitable business assets, limiting the scope of their operations, and changing corporate structures. The Russian case illustrates the more profound fragmentation of the global internet.