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Portfolios of control in mobile eco-systems: evolution and validation

Sandip Mukhopadhyay (MDI (Management Development Institute), Gurgaon, India AND IBM India Private Limited, India)
Harry Bouwman (ICT-TBM, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands AND IAMSR, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland)
Mahadeo Jaiswal (MDI (Management Development Institute), Gurgaon, India)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




This paper aims to study the critical role played by interorganizational control mechanisms in a mobile ecosystems and how the portfolios of control evolves when the service moves from an initial idea to a solution that reaches market acceptance. Existing literature provides limited insight into (portfolios of) control mechanisms and how (portfolios of) control dynamically evolve(s) during the various stages of service innovation.


Based on the Resource Dependency Theory (RDT), this study makes use of multiple cases to identify and validate the key roles of behavioural input and output control mechanisms and how they evolve during different phases of service development.


Based on multiple cases, it is concluded that a dominant actor uses portfolios of control to acquire complimentary resources, coordinate interdependence between multiple partners and ensure a favourable value distribution for itself. Behavioural control is used in a limited way during the implementation and commercialisation phases, while input control is mostly used during the development phase and output controls are mostly used during implementation and commercialisation phases. The high occurrence of input control in the development phase ensures the lower occurrence of behavioural controls in the implementation phase. This study is very practical in nature, and it provides important insight on how to develop mobile services in collaboration with other organisations.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of this study is that it is based on two cases in a specific regulatory, cultural and institutional environment, i.e. India, which means that further testing of the propositions, with large-scale samples and within a more international setting, would be required. However, this study does provide some interesting insights that have to be corroborated by additional case studies and a large-scale questionnaire, initially with a focus on India.


From an academic perspective, this study examines organisational controls in a less researched yet dynamic services industry, and is one of the first studies that the researchers have come across that uses RDT to explain the dynamics of control in value networks in the mobile industry. This study is also one of the very few to focus on understanding the objectives of the portfolios of control from the perspective of the structural player. As mentioned earlier, research focussing on integrating governance mechanisms and portfolios of control may provide new insights. From a practical perspective, this study may shed light on how to develop mobile services in collaboration with other organisations.



The authors wish to thank Prof Rajen K. Gupta of MDI, Gurgaon, India for his constructive review of the research design and protocol; Subodh Jha, Kumar Siddartha for their extensive support during data collection for the two cases.


Mukhopadhyay, S., Bouwman, H. and Jaiswal, M. (2015), "Portfolios of control in mobile eco-systems: evolution and validation", info, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 36-58.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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