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Jonas Pentzien heads research field “Business, value chains and consumption” at the IÖW

The digital economy expert has been working as a research assistant at the IÖW since 2017: Jonas Pentzien (Picture: IÖW)

Since January 2024, the political scientist Jonas Pentzien is head of the research field “Business, value chains and consumption” at the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) in Berlin. He heads the field together with the sustainable business researcher Dr. Christian Lautermann. The IÖW is a leading scientific institute in the field of practice-oriented sustainability research. Around 70 staff members develop strategies and approaches for sustainable business, mainly with funding from public clients from the EU, federal and state governments.

Jonas Pentzien: Expert for digital platforms and cooperative business in the digital space 

The digital economy expert has been working as a research assistant at the IÖW since 2017 and is currently finalizing a doctorate on the topic of sustainability-oriented transformation paths in the platform economy. His research focuses on the (comparative) analysis and evaluation of political and institutional frameworks for alternative economic practices, especially in the digital economy, as well as the qualitative evaluation of sustainable consumption and lifestyles. 

In 2019, Pentzien was fellow at the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy at the New School in New York City and published the report “The Politics of Platform Cooperativism - Understanding Political and Legislative Drivers and Obstacles for Platform Cooperativism in the USA, Germany, and France”. Pentzien brought the Platform Cooperativism Consortium's annual international conference to Europe for the first time. It took place live in Berlin and virtually worldwide in 2021 under the title #TheNewCommonSense. His article on “Building Platforms Differently – Collective Action and Legitimation Dynamics in the Field of Platform Cooperativism”, which reflects on and scientifically classifies these experiences, was published in the Journal of Political Sociology in December 2023. 

“Digital platforms have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Whether it is shopping on Amazon or instant messaging via Bluesky – more and more interactions and transactions are being conducted online. The problem is that while digital technologies offer great potential for decentralized self-organization, for example in cooperatives, they are currently far too often still acting as drivers of precarious working conditions and a centralization of data and market power. A particular concern of my research is to put platform policy in Germany and internationally on a path that is oriented towards participation and the common good,” says Pentzien. 

Among other things, Pentzien is currently conducting research in the project “Making Consumption Eco-Friendly”, which is working on behalf of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation to develop recommendations for action for selected products to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services worldwide. As part of the “Teilgabe” project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Pentzien has spent the last few years investigating how support structures can be set up in the digital economy to provide services for the common good – for example in the areas of nutrition and logistics. The monograph “Kooperatives Wirtschaften in der Zivilgesellschaft” (Cooperative Economy in Civil Society), which was produced as part of the project, will be published by Campus Verlag in spring 2024.


More information:
About Jonas Pentzien
About the research field “Business, value chains and consumption”