Thesis Corner: Julia Ratcliff

In this edition of Thesis Corner, I sat down with Julia Ratcliff to discuss her investigation into the connections of blockchain technology and multi-sided platform theory.

What was your thesis project about?
Essentially my project was about blockchain and multi-sided platform theory. I was trying to see if technologies could essentially replace these businesses that act as intermediaries between two different groups of people.

What were your conclusions?
Technically I did a theory based paper, I didn’t do an econometrics paper, but really it was more on the argumentative side because I was trying to work multi-sided platform price theory into it. It kind of just turned more into how impacts of increased efficiency in information services impacts business performance and how I can apply that to the blockchain multi-sided platform. But essentially, if businesses put more time and effort into increasing how well their technology services are, they’re destined to be more profitable and more efficient. With that, and along with other evidence that I found in business reports and from reading other papers, blockchain can make multi-sided platforms more efficient and profitable, but they aren’t going to replace multi-sided platforms like I originally thought was going to happen.

Why did you select this topic?
I interned with a logistics company last summer [in] their tech support department, and we were able to go to a blockchain class with their cybersecurity department, and so I learned about blockchain. As they were talking about all of the technical applications and implications of blockchain, I was thinking [about] what the economic impact of blockchain is going to be, so I kind of formed this econ-y side of blockchain and I would meet with the cybersecurity people and discuss how I could apply this to econ because multi-sided platforms and intermediaries would be a really interesting way to approach blockchain in economics.

How might you extend this project if you had the opportunity?
I would love to figure out how to make this an empirical thing, so how to find businesses that have adopted blockchain, like IBM built a blockchain for Walmart that was incredibly successful, and just to look at other intermediary groups and see how they use technology because multi-sided platforms really developed after the creation of the Internet. Seeing how that could work out together in getting data to see how businesses have run with technology improvements, it would be incredibly hard to do and would take a very long time, but I think making it an empirical paper would be really cool.

What advice would you give to rising seniors about their thesis projects?
Having your topic before school starts and having your research question sooner than later; I highly recommend talking to your thesis advisor over the summer. I know that I was emailing Matt [Warning] throughout August just making sure that I had a research question by the time I made it to my first class. Honestly, you have so much reading to do to be able to write a thesis that the sooner you have your topic and question the easier your semester is going to be. And, keep writing! Even if you are like in a block, all that you need to do is write write write. It’s tedious, but the project in the end is worth it.

Thank you to Julia for sitting down with me for this interview. Congratulations on completing your senior thesis project!

This transcript has been modified slightly for clarity.

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