Add-on Solution Success: A Configurational View on Knowledge Sharing in Digital Platforms

Jens Förderer, Sebastian Walter Schütz, and Thomas Kude (2014) – 35th International Conference on Information Systems

Digital platforms are used as the foundation upon which complementary add-ons are developed to satisfy heterogeneous customer needs. It is in the interest of platform vendors to share knowledge with partners to stimulate their willingness to develop add-ons. This brings with it the challenge to balance out addressing idiosyncratic needs of partners while ensuring the scalability of knowledge sharing. Knowing that literature indicates that successful outcomes depend on knowledge sharing being aligned with the platform’s architecture, this paper uses the results of an empirical study at a large enterprise platform vendor to discuss this trade-off by deriving a typology of platform architecture and knowledge sharing.

Abstract

Digital platforms serve as a foundation upon which manifold firms develop complementary add-ons to address heterogeneous customer needs. In order to successfully stimulate partner contributions platform vendors need to share knowledge with partners that enables them to develop add-ons. Vendors face a trade-off between addressing idiosyncratic needs of partners while ensuring the scalability of knowledge sharing. Literature indicates that standardized or idiosyncratic knowledge sharing does not per se result in successful outcomes, but rather depends on how knowledge sharing addresses characteristics of the platform’s architecture. In order to increase our understanding of this trade-off we derive a typology of platform architecture and knowledge sharing. We conduct an empirical study at a large enterprise platform vendor to uncover configurations of knowledge sharing approaches. We distill successful knowledge sharing approaches following a set-theoretic approach. Our research in progress offers insights into our preliminary results and gives an outlook on our future research.

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