John Haigh Photo

John Haigh

Lecturer in Public Policy


Economic growth is highly dependent on technological innovation. But companies creating those innovations often develop and potentially abuse their competitive positions as they become larger and progressively more powerful.  Today, global policy makers must address Big Tech (by which we mean the largest global digital technology companies and their supply chains). Big Tech companies are powerful, ubiquitous and evolving. The business models of Big Tech continue to change – most notably through the advent of AI – which means that advancing innovation and technologies could both threaten and embed more permanently their competitive positions.

The course will survey knotty questions with which governments are grappling. For example, what exactly is Big Tech and what are the ways in which Big Tech companies maintain their competitive advantage and, to the extent it exists, monopoly power?  What are the core economic principles that tell us how Big Tech operates, such as network effects and multi-sided platforms?  What kind of Big Tech conduct harms or enhances competition?

We will address how, as a matter of antitrust and sectoral regulation, governments have confronted such challenges in the past and what lessons that history offers for our future. For example, what are, and what should be, the legal standards for antitrust?  What can sectoral regulation accomplish to further competition goals?  How should policymakers consider the role of national champions (of their own and from other countries). Should industrial policy be used to promote or protect against national champions and enhance competition?  How can public policy best address  evolving and Big Tech challenges, like the advent of AI?

The course will address these questions through application of economic and legal principles given evolving global regulations and business strategies.