Towards a Theory of Ecosystems
Strategic Management Journal (2018) 39: 2255-2276
40 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2018
Date Written: March 20, 2018
The recent surge of interest in “ecosystems” in strategy research and practice has mainly focused on what ecosystems are and how they operate. We complement this literature by considering when and why ecosystems emerge, and what makes them distinct from other governance forms. We argue that modularity enables ecosystem emergence, as it allows a set of distinct yet interdependent organizations to coordinate without full hierarchical fiat. We show how ecosystems address multilateral dependences based on various types of complementarities - supermodular or unique, unidirectional or bidirectional, which determine the ecosystem’s value-add. We argue that at the core of ecosystems lie non-generic complementarities, and the creation of sets of roles that face similar rules. We conclude with implications for mainstream strategy and suggestions for future research.
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