Platforms, Open/User Innovation, and Ecosystems: A Strategic Leadership Perspective

by Elizabeth J. Altman and Michael L. Tushman

Overview — Focusing on incumbent organizations transitioning to platform, open/user innovation, and ecosystem strategies, this analysis looks at institutional logic shifts associated with transitions to these strategies, and leadership considerations related to them. Leaders should consider how contrasting institutional logics co-exist and manage this duality including potential organizational identity challenges.

Author Abstract

Platform, open/user innovation, and ecosystem strategies embrace and enable interactions with external entities. Firms pursuing these approaches change how they conduct business and interact with their environments. This paper considers these three strategies together highlighting similarities and differences between platform, open/user innovation, and ecosystem strategies. We focus on managerial and organizational challenges as organizations transition to these strategies and identify four institutional logic shifts: 1) increasing external focus, 2) moving to greater openness, 3) focusing on enabling interactions, and 4) adopting interaction-centric metrics. As mature incumbent organizations transition to these strategies, there may be tensions and multiple conflicting institutional logics. Additionally, we consider four strategic leadership topics and how they relate to transitions to platform, open/user innovation, and ecosystem strategies: 1) executive orientation and experience, 2) top management teams, 3) board-management relations, and 4) executive compensation. We discuss theoretical implications and consider future directions and research opportunities.

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