Disruption in Platform‐Based Ecosystems

39 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2018

See all articles by Hakan Ozalp

Hakan Ozalp

VU University Amsterdam - KIN Center for Digital Innovation

Carmelo Cennamo

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Strategy and Innovation; SDA Bocconi

Annabelle Gawer

University of Surrey

Date Written: November 2018


We study intergenerational platform‐technology transitions as instances of potentially disruptive innovation at the ecosystem level. Examining the launch of 12 platform technologies in the U.S. videogame industry covering three console generations from 1993 until 2010, we show that incumbents introducing next‐generation platform technologies with advanced capabilities increase the challenges of developing complements for the platform technology, steepening complementors’ learning curves and disrupting the very same complementors that platform owners need to thrive in the next‐generation competition. We find that, because of these struggles, platforms with advanced capabilities but high complement‐development challenges show a pattern of defection of complementors toward rival, less challenging platforms. Our study extends mainstream disruptive‐innovation theory to the context of platform‐based ecosystems by offering a systemic view that accounts for disaffection on the part of technology complementors—rather than end users—as the main reason for disruption.

Keywords: disruption, ecosystem, innovation, platform, technological transition

Suggested Citation

Ozalp, Hakan and Cennamo, Carmelo and Gawer, Annabelle, Disruption in Platform‐Based Ecosystems (November 2018). Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 55, Issue 7, pp. 1203-1241, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3268871 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joms.12351

Hakan Ozalp (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam - KIN Center for Digital Innovation ( email )

Main Building
De Boelelaan 1105, A-wing, 5th floor
Amsterdam, 1081 HV

Carmelo Cennamo

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Strategy and Innovation ( email )

Frederiksberg, 2000

HOME PAGE: http://www.cbs.dk/en/staff/ccesi

SDA Bocconi ( email )

Via Bocconi 8
Milan, MI 20136

Annabelle Gawer

University of Surrey ( email )

Guildford, Surrey GU2 8DN
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/sbs/people/annabelle_gawer/

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics