Analysis of selected data protection problems in crowdsourcing businesses
Funding period: 1 December 2020 - 31 January 2021
The publication project explores the risks to data protection that arise from the innovative business model of crowdsourcing platforms from an economic and legal perspective. An analysis of the privacy statements of selected platform companies in China, Germany, and the USA is used to examine the extent to which data is collected from customers (“crowdsourcers”) and website visitors and how this data is processed and used. In a further step, the data protection practice of the platforms is compared with one another and evaluated on the basis of applicable legal requirements (e.g., transparency regulations of the EU GDPR). The exploratory study is carried out in cooperation with the Data Science Center (DSC) of the University of Bremen. It can form the basis for further research on data protection in digital platform transactions.
Funded by the Data Science Center (DSC) Seed Grant of the University of Bremen
Transformation-oriented innovation policy in the bio-economy - status, potentials and strategies
Research period: 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2022
The opposing developments of a growing world population and finite natural resources pose immense challenges to the current economic system, which is essentially based on non-renewable resources. The bio-economy has a key role to play in this necessary sustainable change. With the National Research Strategy Bioeconomy 2030 adopted in 2010 at the latest and the subsequent National Policy Strategy Bioeconomy, the Federal Government has recognised the importance of the bioeconomy for the sustainable development of the entire economic system. The research project will examine alternative financing concepts for the bio-economy. Crowdfunding in its various forms: counter-performance-based crowdfunding, crowdlending and crowd investing is the central form of financing.
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Analyse der Datenschutzerklärungen deutscher FinTech-Unternehmen nach Einführung der DSGVO
Research period: 27 July 2018 to 23 November 2018
The aim of this report is to update the evaluation of the data protection statements from the report "New digital actors and their role in the financial sector" and to analyse the changes after the entry into force of the DSGVO. It is examined whether and which improvements have resulted from the customer's point of view. For this purpose, all data protection declarations of the German FinTech companies are newly collected and compared with the data protection declarations analysed in the first expert opinion. In a second step, the contents of the data protection declarations will be examined and recoded. In a third step, the contents of the data protection declarations for each company are evaluated and 365 variables are updated. Finally, the contents of the data protection declarations before and after the introduction of the DSGVO are compared.
Supported by the ABIDA (Assessing Big Data) project under the direction of the University of Münster.
Practical experience with the exemption provisions in § 2a to § 2c of the German Investment Act since 1 June 2016
Research period: 1 April 2018 to 31 October 2018
In February 2017, the Federal Government submitted a report to the Finance Committee of the German Bundestag on the evaluation of the exemption provisions in sections 2a to 2c of the German Investment Act introduced by the Small Investors Protection Act of 3 July 2015. The evaluation report is available here. It was based, among other things, on empirical data collection on these provisions by a study conducted by researchers from the ifo Institute, the University of Trier and the Humboldt University of Berlin. This study covered the period until 1 June 2016. This means that the exemption regulations had only been applicable for just over a year until then. According to the evaluation report, this period of application may have been too short to allow a final assessment of all aspects and effects of the exemption regulations. Therefore, the Federal Government will re-evaluate the exemption provisions of the Asset Management Act by the beginning of 2019 and in this context will also take into account the extent to which real estate financing projects make use of the exemptions for swarm financing and whether this seems appropriate, especially in view of the purpose of the exemption. As a basis for this re-evaluation, it is necessary to collect market data and practical examples of application and to analyse them with the involvement of all affected interest groups (e.g. market participants, investor protection groups, consumers, banks, religious communities) and the supervisory authorities (Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) or trade authorities). The research report, which will be prepared within the framework of our professorship and in cooperation with the ifo Institute, will make an important contribution to this.
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Finance
In the press:
Schwarmfinanzierung soll einfacher werden, Handelsblatt from 2.4.2019
Crowdsourcing as a new form of organizing labor relations: regulatory requirements and welfare effects
Research period: 1 December 2017 to 30 November 2020
Crowdsourcing refers to the outsourcing of activities that have traditionally been carried out by specially employed actors, usually internal employees of a company, to an undefined and usually large group of people via an open call. A distinction is made between "microwork" and "online freelancing". In microwork, projects are broken down into small tasks that can be completed in seconds or minutes. Online Freelancing is the outsourcing of professional services to crowdworkers, who usually need to have relevant technical or professional qualifications. Crowdsourcing thus holds enormous potential for companies who want to have tasks to be completed by crowdworkers at short notice and benefit from the creativity of a group of actors. The new form of work also has advantages for crowdworkers, as they can organise their daily work more flexibly in terms of time and space. Due to the particularisation of their work, crowdworkers may be structurally inferior to clients and platform operators when concluding contracts, probably even more so than conventional employees. The aim of the research project is to answer the question whether the legal system in Germany and at the level of the European Union provides suitable instruments and regulations for crowdsourcing as a new form of work in order to ensure an appropriate balance of interests and to what extent legislative action is necessary. The study examines whether the contractual employee protection law applies or should apply to crowdworkers and which possibilities of collective protection of interests are or should be available to crowdworkers. The study is based on comparative findings with the legal situation in the USA, because that is where the most comprehensive experience with the phenomenon of crowdsourcing exists and the consequences of this form of activity have become particularly visible to employees. From an economic perspective, the study analyzes to what extent crowdworkers pursue an activity in order to secure their livelihood and which alternative functions they pursue. Furthermore, it is examined in which form possible welfare gains are shared among crowdworkers, platform and crowdsourcers and whether crowdworkers take action against unfair treatment by the other two parties. The research questions will be answered with the methods of empirical and experimental economic research and comparative law will be applied. Should the legislator enact a German crowdsourcing law or a European crowdsourcing directive in the coming years, a comprehensive evaluation of the new rules will be carried out with the available data material.
Funded by the German Research Foundation
New digital players and their role in the financial sector
Research period: 1 September 2017 to 28 February 2018
The study will elaborate the opportunities and risks of market participants and new digital players in the financial industry and identify and analyse existing business models as well as new big data-based financial offerings. For this purpose, German FinTechs and the taxonomy of FinTech companies already developed by the authors will be used. Further findings will be derived mainly from interviews with experts. The study focuses on the following topics:
Cooperation between banks and FinTechs
FinTechs and regulation
FinTechs and Big Data
Sustainability of the FinTech business models
FinTechs and data protection
FinTechs and access to debt capital
Supported by the ABIDA (Assessing Big Data) project under the direction of the University of Münster
In the press:
Mobile Payment - Sex, Drugs und Daten, Süddeutsche Zeitung from 27.7.2018
Practical Experiences with the Exemption Provisions § 2a - §2c VermAnlG of the Small Investor Protection Act (adopted on 03 July 2015)
Research period: 11 May 2016 to 31 September 2016
When regulating start-up companies, there is often a conflict of objectives. On the one hand, the legislator wants to protect investors from fraudulent activities on the capital market. To do so, issuers must provide potential investors with information and are subject to extensive regulation. However, the provision of information and compliance with the relevant laws is associated with high costs, especially for young companies. On the other hand, the legislator is aware of the financing difficulties of young companies. For this reason, it has created exemption regulations that are aimed at the special needs of start-up companies. The study will examine whether swarm financing is carried out with or without a securities prospectus, the extent to which financing defaults have already occurred, what types of products are used, what investor structure exists and how the portals react to the new exemptions. In addition to the classic swarm financing of companies, social and charitable projects are also examined.
Supported by the Federal Ministry of Finance
In the press:
Investieren im Netz: Die Crowd hat die besseren Start-ups, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 4.5.2017
Intelligenter Schwarm, Handelsblatt from 27.4.2017
Crowdfunding bleibt ein Nischengeschäft, Focus from 8.4.2017
Kleinanlegerschutz: Crowd und Rüben, Süddeutsche Zeitung from 23.02.2017
"FinTech" market in Germany
Research period: 1 February 2016 to 31 July 2016
The aim of the research project is to define the term "FinTech" based on international technical literature and against the background of the real market conditions in Germany. A further project component is the identification of the relevant FinTech companies and platforms in Germany. In addition, the FinTech activities of the leading German banks and savings banks are examined. Based on the population to be defined, the relevant market sizes and volumes will be collected and evaluated. A special focus will be on the market segments crowdfunding, crowd investing, crowdlending, robo advice, personal financial management and social trading. Finally, technological backlogs and regulatory barriers that could prevent the FinTech market from further development will be identified. Finally, a market forecast for the next 5, 10 and 20 years will be prepared.
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Finance
In the press:
Das Crowd-Casino, Süddeutsche Zeitung from 12.01.2017
Jens Spahn und Lars Hornuf präsentieren FinTech-Studie, Funding Circle Blog from 6.12.2016
FinTech ist Mainstream, Capital from 2.12.2016
Crowdfunding-Potentiale in Deutschland, crowdfunding.de from 30.11.2016
Deutschland ist auf dem Weg zur Fintech-Nation, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from 21.11.2016
Digitalisierung des Finanzmarktes in Deutschland: Auf dem Weg zur FinTech-Nation, Monatsbericht des Bundesministeriums der Finanzen November 2016 from 2.11.2016
FinTechs - Hoffen auf den Boom in Deutschland, Handelsblatt from 20.11.2016
Crowdinvesting in Germany, England and the USA: Regulatory Perspectives and Welfare Implications of a New Financing Scheme
Research period: 1 October 2014 to 30 October 2017
Crowd investing is the Internet-based collection of contributions from several investors to finance start-up companies. Crowd investing fills a gap in the market for corporate financing worldwide. The companies financed by crowd investing are often too risky for banks, too small for institutional venture capitalists and have too large a financing requirement for friends and family. Without crowd investing, these companies would be dependent on state support or would not receive any financing. Crowd investing therefore has an enormous potential for financing innovative business ideas and economic growth. The aim of the research project applied for is to answer the question whether and how crowd investing should be regulated in Germany or at EU level. To this end, the scope and structure of the crowd investing markets in Germany, the UK and the US will be examined and the existing state and private regulations in these three countries will be surveyed. In a second step, the consequences of the emergence of crowd investing for all parties involved will be analysed. Specifically, it will be investigated whether crowd investing enables an efficient allocation of capital between investors and start-up companies and thus represents a financing alternative worthy of support. Linked to this is the question of whether crowd investing suffers from a specific form of market failure that requires specific legislative intervention. Finally, it will be examined whether competition among crowd investing platforms exists or can exist and whether it produces good or bad standards, i.e. whether it leads to a race to the top or a race to the bottom. The research questions are answered using the methods of empirical capital market research and comparative law is applied. Should the legislator enact a German Crowd Investing Act or a European Crowd Investing Directive in the coming years, a comprehensive evaluation of the new rules will be conducted with the available data material.
How does authentic leadership affect the fraudulent behaviour of employees? An experimental investigation from an economic, legal and psychological perspective
Research period: 1 October 2014 to 31 March 2016
Despite numerous regulatory measures, fraud in companies is a daily occurrence worldwide. In contrast to the standard economic model of fraud behaviour and punishment (Becker, 1968), which describes fraud behaviour as a simple cost-benefit analysis, we take up the theory of self-conceptualization as the theoretical basis of the research project. The research project investigates the circumstances under which the limit shifts, beyond which an employee no longer perceives himself as an honest individual. On the basis of current literature, we postulate that authentic leaders lower the threshold below which employees cheat and at the same time can just about credibly convey to themselves that they are an honest individual. In an experimental laboratory study, we investigated the fraudulent behaviour of employees of an authentic manager in comparison to the control group (effect of authentic leadership), the fraudulent behaviour of employees when they observe that people in their immediate environment cheat (contagion effect) and the fraudulent behaviour of employees when they themselves are cheated by people in their immediate environment (retaliation effect). The study made use of the experimental methods of behavioural economics. This research project is the first study to date that uses theories and methods from economics, law and psychology to analyze the causal influence of authentic leadership on the fraudulent behavior of employees. The project was successfully completed in 2016 and is expected to result in a publication by Palgrave Macmillan Verlag.
Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation
Braun, Susanne and Lars Hornuf (2017): Authentic leadership and followers' cheating behavior - A laboratory experiment from a self-concept maintenance perspective, in: Dorianne Cotter-Lockard (eds.): Authentic Leadership and Followership: International Perspectives, Palgrave Macmillan.