HUBER Thomas, HURNI Thomas, DIBBERN Jens
In software platform ecosystems, the technological and structural peculiarities vest the platform owner with an extremely powerful position that puts any complementor at the mercy of the platform owner’s actions. Paradoxically, it is the self-determination and proactivity of the complementors that determine the ecosystem’s success through their surprising outside innovations. This study addresses this power paradox by unpacking the power dynamics between platform owners and complementors. Based on an exploratory multiple-case study of six platform partnerships, we find that power in platform ecosystems unfolds as a reciprocal process of three interlocking cycles, in which both the platform owner and the complementors take an active role. The modus operandi of power in platform ecosystems is a “central power cycle” in which the complementors repeatedly evaluate whether to accept or reject the platform owner’s domination power. Thriving partnerships sustain this central power cycle over time, which requires that the platform owner and the complementors dynamically adapt their wielding of power to the changing needs of the partnership (partnership adaptation cycle) or the ecosystem (ecosystem redefinition cycle).
HURNI, T., HUBER, T. et DIBBERN, J. (2022). Power dynamics in software platform ecosystems. Information Systems Journal, 32(2), pp. 310-343.