Ecosystems or ‘commons’ of business partners are an old form of organisation. We described how and why it was abandoned, even described as a form of organisation that was not adapted to modern business. But over the last twenty-five years we have seen a revival of the concept.
Most of the recent publications focus on the distinction between ecosystems and other forms of organisations. Some of the more managerial papers describe some of the success factors. But we identified a paucity of advice about how to start and manage such ecosystems. In this paper we summarize the findings on how to start and grow an ecosystem, as it is more extensively reported in our forthcoming book. We advanced 6 propositions on how to start an ecosystem. ensure that the ecosystem leader is credible; bring foundation partners onboard; provide an initial roadmap; clarify what the value is to partners of joining; reduce the entry barriers and the transaction costs; and select partners that can bring a sub-ecosystem along. These can be operationalised in hypotheses for further empirical research. We also suggest three levers that can be used to encourage the growth of an ecosystem: have a clear architecture for the ecosystem; avoid the creeping risk of encroaching on partners’ activities; and create incentives for partners to co-invest. Again, these propositions require further work. In particular, we believe that there can be interesting future research on the types of architecture that an ecosystem leader can design in order to promote innovation, and value creation and capture in an ecosystem.
Adler, Paul S, (2001). Market, Hierarchy, and Trust: The Knowledge Economy and the Future of Capitalism,” Organization Science, 12(2): 214-234.
Adner, Ron. 2006. “Match your innovation strategy to your innovation ecosystem”, Harvard Business Review, 84(4): 98-107
Adner R. 2017. Ecosystem as Structure: An Actionable Construct for Strategy. Journal of Management. 43 (1): 39-58
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Williamson Peter J, De Meyer A and Muthirulan Arun, (2009). ARM Holdings Plc: the ecosystem advantage. University of Cambridge, Judge Business School, case 310-127-1 Williamson Peter. J and De Meyer Arnoud. (2012). Ecosystem Advantage: how to successfully harness the power of partners. California Management Review. Vol 55 (1): 24-46
Williamson Peter J. and Wang, (2014), Alibaba Group’s Taobao: From Intermediary to
Ecosystem Enabler”, University of Cambridge, 2014, Judge Business School, case study, 314139-1.
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