Control versus Generativity: A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective on Service Platforms

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

Leveraging innovations on popular service platforms brings with it a careful trade-off between stimulating and controlling generativity. This paper provides a review of the literature on generativity across disciplines, which underlines two mechanisms for controlling generativity, architectural and relational control. Observing control impacts through a longitudinal methodological perspective, the paper shows that the conceptualization of service platforms as complex adaptive systems allows the researchers explain the impacts of both architectural and relational control mechanisms on the platform’s generativity. 

Abstract

Service platforms emerge as a dominant strategy for generating innovations. In this paper we argue that leveraging innovations on service platforms requires a careful trade-off between stimulating and controlling generativity. In order to gain a richer understanding of this duality we distill literature on generativity across disciplines. Our review yields two mechanisms for controlling generativity, architectural and relational control. We argue that conceptualizing service platforms as complex adaptive systems allows us to explain the impacts of both control mechanisms on the platform’s generativity. In order to observe control impacts we motivate a longitudinal methodological perspective and present first results of an empirical study at a large multinational service platform vendor. The final results of this study are expected to contribute to extant literature on service platforms and complex adaptive systems, as well as to provide valuable insights for decision makers in the field.

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