What Is an Ecosystem? Incorporating 25 Years of Ecosystem Research
Academy of Management Proceedings, Vol. 2019, No. 1
29 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2019 Last revised: 18 Aug 2019
Date Written: January 15, 2019
Ecosystems are increasingly recognized as crucial for the success of a firm’s innovation strategy and business model. They are also a topic attracting increasing academic interest, with more than 300 articles published in top journals since 1992, most in the past five years. Based on an examination of this research, we propose a new definition that links the central goal of an ecosystem — joint value creation — to three constructs: goals of ecosystem members, the network of relations between these members, and the interdependence of their respective goals. We show how the four components of this definition allow ecosystem researchers to incorporate insights across a wide range of previously excluded studies of ecosystems and related topics. From this, we summarize the research opportunities made possible by this more inclusive definition, including research on each of the components, the interconnection between components, and with the ecosystem used as a level of analysis.
Keywords: business ecosystems, platforms, multi-sided markets, regional ecosystems, open innovation
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