The emergence of native multi-sided platforms and their influence on incumbents

Andreas Hein, Maximilian Schreieck, Manuel Wiesche, Markus Böhm, and Helmut Krcmar (2019) – Electronic Markets, 29(4), 631-647


Multi-sided platforms (MSPs) are one of the dominant designs of the digital age. However, prior research focuses mainly on established MSPs, leaving little insight into their emergence. We use the literature on technological trajectories and technology diffusion to derive four propositions that increase our understanding on the emergence of MSPs. The propositions include the emergence of native MSPs based on the assimilation of technologies in technological trajectories; how uncertainty influences incumbents to not follow those trajectories; how native MSPs create new demand; and how this demand eventually triggers the transformation process of incumbents to transform toward an MSP provider. We conduct a multiple-case study in the context of mobility services with three native MSP companies along with an incumbent that is transforming toward an MSP provider. The resulting process model shows that MSPs follow a process of sense-making and bricolage to assemble a service-oriented architecture, contrary to the incumbent who adopts technologies according to its institutional logic to improve existing products and processes.

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