22. Jun 2022, 4.00 pm - 6.00 pm | Max-Weber-Kolleg, Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences, Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Research

The co-evolution of corporate and political power under intellectual monopoly capitalism: Exploring the interplay between Big Tech, the US and the Chinese states.

hybrid (online and Hörsaal 3)
EIPCC Graduate Centre
Cecilia Rikap, PhD (City, University of London)
Event type

The EIPCC graduate centre invites you to a lecture by and discussion with Cecilia Rikap, PhD (City, University of London). The event will be held hybrid and in English.

What’s behind the rise of lead firms like Alibaba and Amazon, and what does this mean for international politics? Cecilia Rikap (City, University of London) researches the ways that lead firms – especially tech giants – have been able to monopolize knowledge and information. In this event she will look at the relationships of harmony and conflict between tech giants and their respective states: the US and China. As firms turn important elements of technology into private assets, and states build barriers to knowledge, open science and innovation possibilities may be undermined. Join us to learn more.

About the speaker

Cecilia Rikap (PhD in economics from the Universidad de Buenos Aires) is a permanent Lecturer in International Political Economy (IPE) at City, University of London and programme director of the BSc in IPE at the same university. She is a tenure researcher of the CONICET, Argentina’s national research council. She is associate researcher at COSTECH lab, Université de Technologie de Compiègne. She is also an advisor for Argentina's Ministries of Health and Productive Development.

Cecilia’s research focuses on the political economy of science and technology. She currently studies the rising concentration of intangible assets focusing on the emergence of intellectual monopolies, among others from tech and pharma industries, the distribution of intellectual (including data) rents, resulting geopolitical tensions and the effects of knowledge assetization on the knowledge commons and development. Besides several publications, she has published two books on these topics: “Capitalism, Power and Innovation: Intellectual Monopoly Capitalism uncovered” (Routledge) and “The Digital Innovation Race: Conceptualizing the Emerging New World Order” (Palgrave), the latter co-authored with B.A.K. Lundvall. Her recent work includes corporate planning of global production and innovation systems driven by intellectual monopolization and how these leading corporations, in particular tech giants, are developing state-like features, thus reshaping core and peripheral states.

Contemporary leading corporations base their power on the systematic concentration (and predation) of knowledge and information turned into intangible assets. They control the orientations of science and technology and capture knowledge developed with other organizations (firms, universities, etc.). These companies hold self-reinforcing intellectual monopolies. By monopolizing access to society’s knowledge, their capacity to plan portions of capitalism exceeds their legally owned assets. Among intellectual monopolies, tech giants are the most extreme case because they are constantly harvesting and analysing big data with AI algorithms that get better as they are used. The output of this process is digital intelligence used to reinforce their intellectual monopolies by innovating in their ongoing businesses and entering new ones.

Nonetheless, the rise of intellectual monopoly capitalism, as much as it challenges states around the world, also underpins and explains the global distribution of uneven political power between states. In other words, contemporary capitalism needs to be understood in the light of the interplay –that reflects both harmony and conflict- between intellectual monopolies and core states. In particular, between tech giants, the US and the Chinese states. These leading digital players constitute and shape each other and affect the rest of the world. Tech giants privatize, monopolize, and turn important elements of technology into private assets while their respective states build new barriers to the international flow of knowledge. This double enclosure undermines the global knowledge commons and open science. It curtails innovation possibilities for other organizations and for the rest of the world.