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Professor Vili Lehdonvirta

Roles and subjects

Senior Research Fellow



Professor Vili Lehdonvirta is a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Professor of Economic Sociology and Digital Social Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, associate member of the University of Oxford Department of Sociology, and former Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute.

Academic Background

Professor Lehdonvirta holds a PhD in Economic Sociology from the University of Turku (2009) and a MSc from the Helsinki University of Technology (2005). Previously he worked at the London School of Economics, the University of Tokyo, and the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology. In 2020, he was a visiting professor at the Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo. Before his academic career, Lehdonvirta worked as a game programmer.

Graduate teaching

I am currently especially interested in supervising doctoral research that examines 1) conflict and cooperation between platform users and owners in setting platform rules; 2) decentralized and other alternative models of platform organization from retrospective, historical perspectives; 3) the relationship between platforms and the state. All proposals should engage with relevant debates in academic journals such as Socio-Economic Review and Information, Communication, and Society. Candidates should also show interest in grounding their research in fundamental social science theory, such as collective action, public choice, transaction cost economics, or social construction of technology.

Research Interests

Professor Lehdonvirta’s research examines how digital technologies are used to reshape the organization of economic activities in society, from gig platforms to online marketplaces and virtual currencies to crowdfunding. What are the implications to workers, entrepreneurs, and states, and how can this digital economy be governed?

His book Cloud Empires: How digital platforms are overtaking the state and how we can regain control is coming out from MIT Press in September 2022. His previous book Virtual Economies: Design and analysis is published by MIT Press and translated to Chinese and Japanese. Lehdonvirta has authored and co-authored over 30 peer-reviewed articles published in journals such as Socio-Economic ReviewSociology, and Journal of Management.

Professor Lehdonvirta is a former member of the European Commission’s Expert Group on the Online Platform Economy and the High-Level Expert Group on Digital Transformation and EU Labour Markets. The Online Labour Index developed in his iLabour research project is now maintained by the International Labour Organization. His research has been supported by major grants from the European Research Council, the UK Economic and Social Research Council, and other science funding agencies.

Professor Lehdonvirta’s research draws on theories and approaches from economic sociology, political economy, industrial relations, new institutional economics, and science and technology studies. He and his graduate students and postdoctoral researchers use conventional social research methods as well as novel data science approaches. Lehdonvirta co-organizes the SASE Digital Economy network and sits on the editorial boards of the journals Information SocietyElectronic Commerce Research, and Journal of International Business Policy.

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