Tim Wyndham’s defence of his PhD thesis – “Essays on Industrial Organisation”

Picture of Timothy Wyndham. 

On 17 April Tim Wyndham gave a trial lecture and defended his PhD thesis in the first defence under lockdown at NHH.

His given trial lecture topic was “Public policy in the digital news industry – opportunities and challenges” although he later reflected that it seemed to contain more challenges than opportunities. In the afternoon he defended his thesis to a Committee of Associate Professor Sissel Jensen (Committee Leader),  Professor Jan Yngve Sand and Professor Richard Friberg.  After a thorough grilling, the Committee eventually relented and judged the defence a success.

The thesis is entitled Essays in Industrial Organisation. The second chapter, published in the International Journal of Industrial Organisation, shows that a VAT decrease at a digital newspaper leads it to charge a higher price from the readers.  The intuition for this surprising result hinges on the fact that the newspaper operates in a two-sided market, and that it will put more emphasis on raising revenue from the reader market than from the advertising market when the VAT falls.

The third chapter, co-authored with BECCLE colleague Malgorzata Cyndecka, and published in European State Aid Quarterly describes and applies the findings of the second chapter and associated literature to argue that the European Free Trade Area Surveillance Authority (ESA) were incorrect when they accepted that Norway’s reduction of the VAT rate on digital newspapers was compatible with the single market.

The fourth chapter uses the recent increase in the number of outlets for Vinmonopolet to examine the relationship between alcohol consumption and sick leave. Our core finding is that an increase in alcohol consumption of 1 percent leads to an increase of sick leave of around 0.16 percent, at the mean.

The fifth chapter returns to the market for newspapers and investigates the impact of digital newspapers imposing paywalls on news consumption. This is a central question for digital newspapers, as they need to carefully weigh the increased revenue from charging readers for news against lost advertising revenues if they receive fewer views. When newspapers introduce a paywall we find that short run consumption of news falls by 3-4 percent, and continues to fall by between 9-11 percent in the long run.

Tim is now teaching economics to International Baccalaureate students at King Edward’s School in Birmingham and hopes he is helping to show many students the joy of competition law and economics and the benefits of studying abroad. He is prone to the odd bout of pining for the fjords.