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Call for Papers | Journal of International Marketing: Digital Platforms and Ecosystems in International Marketing

Call for Papers | Journal of International Marketing: Digital Platforms and Ecosystems in International Marketing

The business world has witnessed the emergence of new digital technologies and business models in the past two decades. For example, the rise of digital platform business models in retail and IT services has disrupted traditional models, making firms reconsider their business strategies and creating new opportunities for marketers to create value for buyers and other stakeholders (Perren and Kozinets 2018). Digital platforms intermediate between sellers, buyers, and other stakeholders via digital architecture often manifested as mobile and web applications (e.g., sharing economy platforms; Kozlenkova et al. 2021). The platform firm decides on the extent of governance accountability it will take in the entire value-creation process. Ecosystems, of which platforms can be a part, are networks of independent but interdependent actors participating in an industry’s or economic sector’s value chain (Nambisan, Zahra, and Luo 2019). Both platforms and ecosystems create value via direct and indirect network externalities (Kumar, Nim, and Agarwal 2021; Sridhar, Mantrala, Naik, Thorson 2011; ), with value cocreation at the core of actors’ business models and strategies.

In today’s Internet Age, digital platforms have no geographic borders. Platform business models are becoming a go-to strategy for international firms across the globe. For example, retailers are increasingly considering the platformization of their brands to add more value to their core offerings (Wichmann, Wiegand, and Reinartz 2022). With the help of digital technologies, it has become easier to expand into multiple markets simultaneously without diluting the supply chain advantages and brand positioning. Consider the low-cost e-commerce firm Temu from China, operating in more than 50 global markets and developing a strong ecosystem after launching in 2022. Temu consumers get access to various global sellers, making the domestic and international markets more competitive (Deighton 2023).

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At the same time, marketers with new ways to create and capture value get access to an expanded target market. For example, as an entertainment platform, Netflix has launched different product and subscription pricing strategies in markets like India to compete with Disney, Amazon, and Reliance (Sull and Turconi 2021). Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter connect project creators and backers across the globe. Social media platforms have further amplified the reach of such retail and commerce platforms across both business and consumer markets (Gao et al. 2018). Thus, digital platforms and ecosystems can be considered a contemporary approach to internationalization and thereby are of great interest to marketing managers, policy makers, and regulators in both developed and emerging markets (Hewett et al. 2022).

However, research and knowledge of the dynamics of digital platforms and ecosystems in international marketing is still rather limited. A deeper understanding of how digital platforms can be utilized in the global marketing efforts of businesses is needed. Understanding digital platforms utilized across markets for sustainability, water conservation, health care, and other pressing issues and from the perspectives of NGOs and governments is urgently needed (Falcke, Zobel, and Comello 2024).

The purpose of this special issue, therefore, is to significantly advance research investigating the role of platforms and ecosystem business models across various facets of international marketing. Of special interest are papers focusing on the evolution and formation of digital platform-based global marketing strategies and business models, providing concepts, frameworks, theories, and empirical insights helpful for customers, firms, regulators, policy makers, and governments.

Research bearing on (but not limited to) the following questions is welcome: 

  1. Different modes of platforms and ecosystems as internationalization approaches:

    a. How orchestrator firms build digital and nondigital architecture across different markets while entering or growing in a market.
    b. How these modes differ due to within and across market heterogeneity leading to different marketing strategies.
    c. How the consumer culture of a market complements the different modes.

  2. Impact of platform and ecosystem approach on the international marketing mix:

    a. How stakeholders drive or impact product development and innovation processes.
    b. How integrating private label brands by platforms and using seller data impacts platform outcomes.
    c. How pricing strategies evolve and change over time with platforms and ecosystem approaches.
    d. How subscription and non-subscription pricing strategies evolve across various markets.
    e. How the supply chain and distribution network strengthens or weakens as the industry moves toward platform and ecosystem approaches.
    f. How the orchestrator firm develops or chooses partners for various marketing activities across and within developed and developing markets.
    g. How the promotion mix of the platform and ecosystem-based offering differ from traditional business models within and across industries (B2B vs. B2C) and markets.
    h. How culture interacts with platform and ecosystem strategies, and how this impacts firms and other stakeholders.

  3. Impact on market structure, competition, and consumer and stakeholder welfare:

    a. Do platforms and ecosystems command higher market power, impacting the welfare of consumers and other stakeholders?
    b. Do platform and ecosystems approaches vary across industries (e.g., retail, energy, transportation)? How does these approaches impact the marketing mix in a market?
    c. Does higher platform power lead to consumer and stakeholder welfare erosion?
    d. How can marketers navigate the competition and coopetition to make a platform successful across various markets?
    e. What lessons can be learned from technology platforms like Google and Apple to navigate the tricky technological and regulatory landscape?
    f. What is the role of government and regulatory bodies in supporting or deterring the platform’s growth to ensure the welfare of stakeholders?
    g. Do dark patterns affect customer welfare? (For example, subscription pricing charges and policies that are not visible to consumers and the role of regulators.)
    h. Is there a loss of local livelihood that affects sellers as platforms integrate private label brands?
    i. What is the impact of the rise of circular platforms on sustainable value chains and stakeholders across developed and developing markets?

  4. Customer attitudes and actions within and across platforms and ecosystems:

    a. Conceptual similarity for customer-based outcomes for platform firms and other stakeholders.
    b. Measurement of customer experience, satisfaction, and engagement with digital platforms and ecosystems.
    c. Management of failures and customer recovery in multisided platforms and ecosystems.
    d. Customer journey management across various digital and nondigital touchpoints in platforms and ecosystems.
    e. Interdependence of consumers’ relationships with and perceptions of brands or partners operating across platforms and ecosystems.
    f. How marketers can explore circular platforms and ecosystems to help firms be sustainable value chains and positive customer attitudes.
    g. Platform exploitation by customers and disintermediation.

This list of topics and questions is reflective but not exhaustive of the current state of industry and academic literature. We call for more interdisciplinary and foundational research to expand the horizons of platforms and ecosystems literature in International Marketing. We invite all types of research—qualitative, behavioral, and empirical—and encourage researchers to identify multiple sources of data and motivation for this special issue.

Submission Process

All manuscripts will be reviewed as a cohort for this special issue of the Journal of International Marketing. Manuscripts must be submitted between March 1, 2025 and May 30, 2025. All submissions will go through Journal of International Marketing’s double-anonymized review and follow standard norms and processes. Submissions must be made via the journal’s ScholarOne site, with author guidelines available here. For any queries, feel free to reach out to the special issue editors.

Special Issue Editors

Nandini Nim, Assistant Professor of Marketing, University of Texas at El Paso (email: nnim@utep.edu)

Murali Krishna Mantrala, Ned Fleming Professor of Marketing, University of Kansas (email: mmantrala@ku.edu)

Ayşegül Özsomer, Professor, Koç University, and Editor in Chief, Journal of International Marketing (email: aozsomer@ku.edu.tr)

References

Adner, Ron (2022), “Sharing Value for Ecosystem Success,” MIT Sloan Management Review, 63 (2), 85–90.

Deighton, John (2023), “How SHEIN and Temu Conquered Fast Fashion—and Forged a New Business Model,” Harvard Business School (April 25), https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/how-shein-and-temu-conquered-fast-fashion-and-forged-a-new-business-model.

Falcke, Lukas, Ann-Kristin Zobel, and Stephen D. Comello (2024), “How Firms Realign to Tackle the Grand Challenge of Climate Change: An Innovation Ecosystems Perspective,” Journal of Product Innovation Management, 41 (2), 403–27.

Gao, Hongzhi, Mary Tate, Hongxia Zhang, Shijiao Chen, and Bing Liang (2018). “Social Media Ties Strategy in International Branding: An Application of Resource-Based Theory. Journal of International Marketing, 26 (3), 45–69.

Hewett, Kelly, G. Tomas M. Hult, Murali K. Mantrala, Nandini Nim, and Kiran Pedada (2022), “Cross-Border Marketing Ecosystem Orchestration: A Conceptualization of Its Determinants and Boundary Conditions,” International Journal of Research in Marketing, 39 (2), 619–38.

Kozlenkova, Irina V., Ju-Yeon Lee, Diandian Xiang, and Robert W. Palmatier (2021), “Sharing Economy: International Marketing Strategies,” Journal of International Business Studies, 52, 1445–73.

Kumar, V., Nandini Nim, and Amit Agarwal (2021), “Platform-Based Mobile Payments Adoption in Emerging and Developed Countries: Role of Country-Level Heterogeneity and Network Effects,” Journal of International Business Studies, 52, 1529–58.

Nambisan, Satish, Shaker A. Zahra, and Yadong Luo (2019), “Global Platforms and Ecosystems: Implications for International Business Theories,” Journal of International Business Studies, 50, 1464–86.

Perren, Rebeca and Robert V. Kozinets (2018), “Lateral Exchange Markets: How Social Platforms Operate in a Networked Economy,” Journal of Marketing, 82 (1), 20–36.

Sridhar, Shrihari, Murali K. Mantrala, Prasad A. Naik, and Esther Thorson. “Dynamic marketing budgeting for platform firms: Theory, evidence, and application.” Journal of Marketing Research 48, no. 6 (2011): 929-943.

Sull, Donald and Stefano Turconi (2021), “Netflix Goes to Bollywood,” Teacher Resources Library, MIT Sloan School of Management (February 22), https://mitsloan.mit.edu/teaching-resources-library/netflix-goes-to-bollywood.

Wichmann, Julian R.K., Nico Wiegand, and Werner J. Reinartz (2022), “The Platformization of Brands,” Journal of Marketing, 86 (1), 109–31.

Other Resources

Adner, Ron (2017). Ecosystem as Structure: An Actionable Construct for Strategy,” Journal of Management, 43 (1), 39–58.

Akaka, Melissa A., Stephen L. Vargo, and Robert F. Lusch (2013), “The Complexity Of Context: A Service Ecosystems Approach for International Marketing,” Journal of International Marketing, 21 (4), 1–20.

Gawer, Annabelle and Michael A. Cusumano (2014). “Industry Platforms and Ecosystem Innovation,” Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31 (3), 417–33.

Glavas, Charmaine, Shane Mathews, and Rebekah Russell-Bennett (2019), “Knowledge Acquisition via Internet-Enabled Platforms: Examining Incrementally and Non-Incrementally Internationalizing SMEs,” International Marketing Review, 36 (1), 74–107.

Kanuri, Vamsi K., Murali K. Mantrala, and Esther Thorson (2017), “Optimizing a Menu of Multiformat Subscription Plans for Ad-Supported Media Platforms,” Journal of Marketing, 81 (2), 45–63.

Zhou, Qiang (Kris), B.J. Allen, Richard T. Gretz, and Mark B. Houston (2022), “Platform Exploitation: When Service Agents Defect with Customers from Online Service Platforms,” Journal of Marketing, 86 (2), 105–25.

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