Towards a theory of ecosystems

Jacobides, M G, Cennamo, C and Gawer, A (2018) Towards a theory of ecosystems. Strategic Management Journal, 39 (8). pp. 2255-2276. ISSN 0143-2095 OPEN ACCESS


The recent surge of interest in “ecosystems” in strategy research and practice has mainly focused on what ecosystems are and how they operate. We complement this literature by considering when and why ecosystems emerge, and what makes them distinct from other governance forms.
We argue that modularity enables ecosystem emergence, as it allows a set of distinct yet interdependent organizations to coordinate without full hierarchical fiat. We show how ecosystems address multilateral dependences based on various types of complementarities -
supermodular or unique, unidirectional or bidirectional, which determine the ecosystem’s value-add. We argue that at the core of ecosystems lie non-generic complementarities, and the creation of sets of roles that face similar rules. We conclude with implications for mainstream strategy and suggestions for future research.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Strategy and Entrepreneurship
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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Jacobides M G, Cennamo C, Gawer A (2018) Towards a theory of ecosystems, Strategic Management Journal - which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with the Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving

Date Deposited: 17 May 2018 13:55
Date of first compliant deposit: 16 May 2018
Subjects: Business enterprise
Business cycles
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2024 01:25

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