Digital platform ecosystems

Andreas Hein, Maximilian Schreieck, Tobias Riasanow, David Soto Setzke, Manuel Wiesche, Markus Böhm, and Helmut Krcmar (2020) – Electronic Markets


Digital platforms are an omnipresent phenomenon that challenges incumbents by changing how we consume and provide digital products and services. Whereas traditional firms create value within the boundaries of a company or a supply chain, digital platforms utilize an ecosystem of autonomous agents to co-create value. Scholars from various disciplines, such as economics, technology management, and information systems have taken different perspectives on digital platform ecosystems. In this Fundamentals article, we first synthesize research on digital platforms and digital platform ecosystems to provide a definition that integrates both concepts. Second, we use this definition to explain how different digital platform ecosystems vary according to three core building blocks: (1) platform ownership, (2) value-creating mechanisms, and (3) complementor autonomy. We conclude by giving an outlook on four overarching research areas that connect the building blocks: (1) technical properties and value creation; (2) complementor interaction with the ecosystem; (3) value capture; and (4) the make-or-join decision in digital platform ecosystems.

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