Collaboration and Competition in Business Ecosystems: Volume 30

Cover of Collaboration and Competition in Business Ecosystems
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Table of contents

(18 chapters)

List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Abstract

The study considers the interdependencies between complementors in the business ecosystem and explores the nature of collaborative interactions between them. It sheds light on the organizational and the strategic contexts in which such interactions take place, and shows how they may influence the pattern and the benefits of collaboration. The evidence presented is based on fieldwork followed by a detailed survey instrument administered to firms in the semiconductor industry. The findings, while reinforcing the shift in the locus of value creation from focal firms to collaborative business ecosystems characterized by information sharing and joint action among complementors, illustrate the organizational and the competitive challenges that firms face in their pursuit of joint value creation.

Abstract

Two key factors in the success of general-purpose computing platforms are the creation of a technical standards architecture and managing an ecosystem of third-party suppliers of complementary products. Here, we examine Symbian Ltd., a startup firm that developed a strong technical architecture and broad range of third-party complements with its Symbian OS for smartphones. Symbian was shipped in nearly 450 million mobile phones from 2000 to 2010, making it the most popular smartphone platform during that period. However, its technical and market control of the platform were limited by its customers, particularly Nokia. From 2007 onward, Symbian lost market share and developer loyalty to the new iPhone and Android platforms, leading to the extinction of the company and eventually its platform. Together, this suggests lessons for the evolution of a complex ecosystem, and the impact of asymmetric dependencies and divided leadership upon ecosystem success.

Abstract

Healthcare innovations for bottom-of-pyramid populations face considerable risks and few economic incentives. Can entrepreneurial innovators provide new solutions for global health? This chapter examines how a technology enterprise built a collaborative network and supportive ecosystem making it possible to steer an innovation for TB patients through discovery, development, and delivery. Ecosystem resources were mobilized and upstream and downstream co-innovation risks were mitigated to commercialize a new diagnostic test. Detailed evidence on this innovation for TB care uses ecosystem analysis to clarify core issues in the context of joint value creation. The case study shows how resources from private and public partners can be leveraged and combined by the focal firm to build joint value and to lower execution, co-innovation, and adoption risks in healthcare ecosystems combating diseases of poverty.

Abstract

There is a growing need for measures assessing technological changes in systemic contexts as business ecosystems replace standalone products. In these ecosystem contexts, organizations are required to manage their innovation processes in increasingly networked and complex environments. In this paper, we introduce the technology and ecosystem clockspeed measures that can be used to assess the temporal nature of technological changes in a business ecosystem. We analyze systemic changes in the personal computer (PC) ecosystem, explicitly focusing on subindustries central to the delivery of PC gaming value to the end user. Our results show that the time-based intensity of technological competition in intertwined subindustries of a business ecosystem may follow various trajectories during the evolution of the ecosystem. Hence, the technology and ecosystem clockspeed measures are able to pinpoint alternating dynamics in technological changes among the subindustries in the business ecosystem. We subsequently discuss organizational considerations and theoretical implications of the proposed measures.

Abstract

In this paper, we seek to understand how changes in product architecture affect the innovation performance of firms in a complex product ecosystem. The canonical view in the literature is that changes in the technological dependencies between components, which define a product’s architecture, undermine the innovation efforts of incumbent firms because their product development efforts are built around existing architectures. We extend this prevailing view in arguing that component dependencies and changes in them affect firm innovation efforts via two principal mechanisms. First, component dependencies expand or constrain the choice set of firm component innovation efforts. From the perspective of any one component in a complex product (which we label the focal component), an increase in the flow of design information to the focal component from other (non-focal) components simultaneously increases the constraint on focal component firms in their choice of profitable R&D projects while decreasing the constraint on non-focal component firms. Second, asymmetries in component dependencies can confer disproportionate influence on some component firms in setting and dictating the trajectory of progress in the overall system. Increases in such asymmetric influence allow component firms to expand their innovation output. Using historical patenting data in the personal computer ecosystem, we develop fine-grained measures of interdependence between component technologies and changes in them over time. We find strong support for the empirical implications of our theory.

Abstract

This chapter adopts a problem-solving perspective to analyze the competitive dynamics of innovation ecosystems. We argue that features such as uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, entail different knowledge requirements which explain the varying abilities of focal firms to coordinate the ecosystem and benefit from the activities of their suppliers, complementors, and users. We develop an analytical framework to interpret various instances of coupling patterns and identify four archetypical types of innovation ecosystems.

Abstract

This paper explores the emergence and coordination of synchrony in networked groups like those that develop integrated product platforms in collaborative ecosystems. While synchronized actions are an important objective for many groups, interorganizational network theory has yet to explore synchrony in depth perhaps because it does not fit the typical diffusion models this research relies upon. By adding organizationally realistic features – sparse network structure and intentional coordination – to the firefly model from theoretical biology, I take some first steps in understanding synchrony in organizational groups. Like diffusion, synchrony is more effective in denser networks, but unlike diffusion clustering decelerates synchrony’s emergence. Coordination by a few group members accelerates group-wide synchrony, and benefits the coordinating organizations with a higher likelihood that it converges to the coordinating organization’s preferred rhythm. This likelihood of convergence to an organization’s preferred rhythm – what I term synchrony performance – increases in denser networks, but is not dependent on tie strength and clustering.

Abstract

Firms tend to transfer more knowledge in technology joint ventures compared to contractual technology agreements. Using insights from new institutional economics, this chapter explores to what extent the alliance governance association with interfirm knowledge transfer is sensitive to an evolving industry norm of collaboration connected to the logic of open innovation. The chapter examines 1,888 dyad-year observations on firms engaged in technology alliances in the U.S. information technology industry during 1980–1999. Using fixed effects linear models, it analyzes longitudinal changes in the alliance governance association with interfirm knowledge transfer, and how such changes vary in magnitude across bilateral versus multipartner alliances, and across computers, telecommunications equipment, software, and microelectronics subsectors. Increases in industry-level alliance activity during 1980–1999 improved the knowledge transfer performance of contractual technology agreements relative to more hierarchical equity joint ventures. This effect was concentrated in bilateral rather than multipartner alliances, and in the software and microelectronics rather than computers and telecommunications equipment subsectors. Therefore, an evolving industry norm of collaboration may sometimes make more arms-length governance of a technology alliance a credible substitute for equity ownership, which can reduce the costs of interfirm R&D. Overall, the chapter shows that the performance of material practices that constitute innovation ecosystems, such as interfirm technology alliances, may differ over time subject to prevailing institutional norms of open innovation. This finding generates novel implications for the literatures on alliances, open innovation, and innovation ecosystems.

Abstract

Computer systems firms in Silicon Valley are responding to rising costs of product development, shorter product cycles and rapid technological change by focusing and building partnerships with suppliers, both within and outside of the region. Well-known firms like Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computers and lesser known ones like Silicon Graphics and Pyramid Technology are organized to combine the components and sub-systems made by specialist suppliers into new computer systems. As these firms collaborate to both define and manufacture new systems, they are institutionalizing their capacity to learn from one another. Three cases - a contract manufacturer, a silicon foundry, and the joint development of a microprocessor - illustrate how inter-firm networks help account for the sustained technological dynamism of the regional economy.

Abstract

Diversified trading networks have recently drawn a great deal of attention. In the process, the importance of diversity has perhaps been overemphasized. Using the trade in port wine from Portugal to Britain as an example, this essay attempts to show how a market once dominated by general, diversified traders was taken over by dedicated specialists whose success might almost be measured by the degree to which they rejected diversification to form a dedicated “commodity chain.” The essay suggests that this strategy was better able to handle matters of quality and the specialized knowledge that port wine required. The essay also highlights the question of power in such a chain. Endemic commodity-chain struggles are clearest in the vertical brand war that broke out in the nineteenth century, which, by concentrating power, marked the final stage in the transformation of the trade from network to vertical integration.

Abstract

Analysis of organizational decline has become central to the study of economy and society. Further advances in this area may fail however, because two major literatures on the topic remain disintegrated and because both lack a sophisticated account of how social structure and interdependencies among organizations affect decline. This paper develops a perspective which tries to overcome these problems. The perspective explains decline through an understanding of how social ties and resource dependencies among firms affect market structure and the resulting behavior of firms within it. Evidence is furnished that supports the assumptions of the perspective and provides a basis for specifying propositions about the effect of network structure on organizational survival. I conclude by discussing the perspective’s implications for organizational theory and economic sociology.

Abstract

Understanding when entrants might have an advantage over an industry’s incumbent firms in developing and adopting new technologies is a question which several scholars have explained in terms of technological capabilities or organizational dynamics. This paper proposes that the value network—the context within which a firm competes and solves customers’ problems—is an important factor affecting whether incumbent or entrant firms will most successfully innovate. In a study of technology development in the disk drive industry, the authors found that incumbents led the industry in developing and adopting new technologies of every sort identified by earlier scholars—at component and architectural levels; competency-enhancing and competency-destroying; incremental and radical—as long as the technology addressed customers’ needs within the value network in which the incumbents competed. Entrants led in developing and adopting technologies which addressed user needs in different, emerging value networks. It is in these innovations, which disrupted established trajectories of technological progress in established markets, that attackers proved to have an advantage. The rate of improvement in product performance which technologists provide may exceed the rate of improvement demanded in established markets. This mismatch between trajectories enables firms entering emerging value networks subsequently to attack the industry’s established markets as well.

Cover of Collaboration and Competition in Business Ecosystems
DOI
10.1108/S0742-3322(2013)30
Publication date
2013-07-22
Book series
Advances in Strategic Management
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78190-826-6
eISBN
978-1-78190-827-3
Book series ISSN
0742-3322