Software platform establishment: effectuation and entrepreneurial awareness

Ted Saarikko (Department of Applied IT, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Katrin Jonsson (Department of Informatics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)
Thommie Burström (Department of Entrepreneurship, Management and Organisation, Hanken Svenska Handelshogskolan, Helsinki, Finland)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Publication date: 3 June 2019



Faced with environments rife with technological uncertainties, software platforms have gained interest as enablers of innovative businesses and development processes. While extant research has focused on mature platforms, the authors know less about the early phases in a platform’s life cycle. Drawing inspiration from the effectual perspective on entrepreneurship, the purpose of this paper is to further the understanding of how software platforms are established.


The authors develop a framework that describes four types of entrepreneurial awareness and then apply it to a qualitative case study of a platform that has emerged from the initial “creation” phase and is now in a period of rapid growth.


The study indicates that successful establishment of a software platform depends upon the provider’s ability to integrate business acumen with technical proficiency and leverage these combined skills to ensure short-term viability and long-term relevance in the market.

Research limitations/implications

This paper contributes to literature on platform strategy, which has previously focused on mature platforms, by addressing entrepreneurial behavior during a software platform’s establishment. As it is based on a single qualitative study, additional studies of different platforms are needed to verify the results.


The paper highlights the dependence of software platform establishment on the ability to enact both explorative and exploitative activity patterns, and embrace both strategic foresight and systemic insight cognitive patterns. The combined patterns of activity and cognition form four types of awareness, pertaining to markets, resources, technology and contexts.



Saarikko, T., Jonsson, K. and Burström, T. (2019), "Software platform establishment: effectuation and entrepreneurial awareness", Information Technology & People, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 579-602.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.