March 29, 2021

The boundaries of ecosystems

 Towards a theory of ecosystems

In this article, you'll find a good description of the features of a business ecosystem. Unfortunately, too often this word is misused and abused.

We consider what makes ecosystems different from other business constellations, including markets, alliances, or hierarchically managed supply chains. Ecosystems, we posit, are interacting organizations, enabled by modularity, not hierarchically managed, bound together by the nonredeployability of their collective investment elsewhere. Ecosystems add value as they allow managers to coordinate their multilateral dependence through sets of roles that face similar rules, thus obviating the need to enter into customized contractual agreements with each partner. We explain how different types of complementarities (unique or supermodular, generic or specific, uni‐ or bi‐directional) shape ecosystems and offer a “theory of ecosystems” that can explain what they are, when they emerge, and why alignment occurs.