Launched in 2011, eBay’s Public Policy Lab studies how technology empowers small and medium-sized businesses and creates a more inclusive global economy. The company’s three-person think tank publishes original research briefs that draw on proprietary corporate data. Its goal is to spur new thinking by experts in issue areas where the absence of a policy framework may limit eBay’s future growth.
By design, the Policy Lab’s work is kept separate from eBay’s day-to-day advocacy activities. Rather, staff is free to think about what they call the “policy white space” — the medium- to long-term regulatory horizon. Research findings are shared with targeted groups of experts at conferences and in private meetings. These findings are treated as conversation starters; eBay’s hope is that outside experts will become intrigued by the Lab’s ideas and want to conduct further research.
Several heads of state have referenced eBay data in their public statements. Business and technology experts from think tanks and academia have embraced eBay’s research, regularly citing it in their publications. And, of particular pride to the Policy Lab staff, eBay spokespeople from across the company regularly share the Lab’s content in their communications.