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Social media platforms as economic organisations: reconstructing the evolution of TripAdvisor’s operations

Valderrama Venegas, Erika Aida (2020) Social media platforms as economic organisations: reconstructing the evolution of TripAdvisor’s operations. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004215


Social media platforms have gradually become embedded in the digital economy. During this process, their original identity as sites that exclusively facilitated content sharing and user networking has changed significantly. The so-called “social media” literature has traditionally centred on user’s capabilities to networking, sharing content and building community. The “digital platforms” literature has focused on the rules, conditions and governance of resource exchanges between multiples sides of a platform. The “ecosystem literature” has focused on understanding the emergence of a complex web of commercial relationships that prompt value creation. Meaningful as they are, current literature tends to treat technology as a black box by overlooking the ways it moulds perceptions, attitudes, relations, and actions. This study fills this gap by critically examining the role of data and technology in social media platforms. It argues that social media form part of the digital economy by developing both technological and organisational capability to exploit data systematically. The thesis advances these ideas through the study of TripAdvisor from its creation in 2000 through 2019. It uses qualitative analysis complemented with digital methods. The analysis reveals several stages in TripAdvisor’s evolution. Each stage is closely related to TripAdvisor’s capabilities and strategies for procuring, producing and exchanging data with its ecosystem. The thesis develops a general framework that contributes to uncovering the technological, organisational, and economic complexities involved in the evolution of social media. It explains the structural transformations of social media platforms and their current embeddedness in webs of relationships, characteristic of the digital economy. The thesis suggests that the platform’s identity is the result of an intricate interplay of strategies, technology, actors, relationships and practices that influence and reinforce one another.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2020 Erika Aida Valderrama Venegas
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Sets: Departments > Management

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