Strategies for Platform Ecosystems


Special Issue of Strategic Management Journal; Deadline 28 Feb 2018

Call for Papers for a Special Issue

Strategies for Platform Ecosystems

Submission Deadline: February 28, 2018

Guest Editors

Tobias Kretschmer (LMU Munich)

Aija Leiponen (Cornell University and ETLA the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy)

Melissa Schilling (New York University)

Gurneeta Vasudeva (University of Minnesota)

SMJ Advising Editor

Sendil Ethiraj

Platform-based ecosystems are a vital source of dynamism and innovation for many technologies, products, and services in the global economy. A defining feature of platform ecosystems is the interdependency between a stable core or ‘platform’ that interfaces with a dynamic and heterogeneous set of complementary components to generate a stream of derivative products. Platforms spur innovation and efficiency in diverse sectors such as computers, video games, mobile phones, automobiles, payment systems, and e-commerce. However, platforms require coordination and integration across organizational units and firms that often have conflicting interests and requirements. As such, platforms raise interesting and complex issues that strategic management scholars are uniquely equipped to address. At the same time, platforms offer new kinds of contexts for strategy scholars to re-examine existing theories of organization, cooperation, competition, and decision making.

Platform owners must consider their own capabilities, technologies and processes as well as those of their suppliers, rivals and complementors to design for modularity and interoperability. Meanwhile, the strategies of platform participants influence how they contribute value to the platform ecosystem and how much of that value they will be able to appropriate. Consequently, managers must understand the nature of competition and collaboration in platform-based ecosystems. Such strategic decision-making goes beyond issues such as critical mass, switching costs, compatibility, and network effects, and encompasses a broader set of social, cognitive, and technical considerations that affect innovation outcomes and the division of labor, control rights, and firm profits.

Aims and Scope

This special issue aims to bring the study of platform ecosystems into mainstream strategy research and foster a distinctive body of scholarship. The special issue provides a forum for state-of-the-art research on platforms, standards and innovation spanning different industry, country, and institutional settings. We encourage papers that deepen our understanding of platform strategies by drawing on multiple theoretical backgrounds and methods and by leveraging novel data sources. Below we provide an illustrative set of research themes and questions.

Strategies for building platforms: When do firms develop internal platforms and when do they open up platforms to external providers? Which platforms should firms join? How does platform architecture evolve under proprietary versus open interfaces? Which players have the most architectural control? How does the design and development of platforms vary across industrial, national and institutional settings? How do firms convince consumers to adopt platforms and associated products and services?

Strategies for competing on platforms: How do firms maintain control over the core and peripheral components in the system? Is control necessary to capture value from the platform? How does the shift from between-firm competition to within- or between-platform competition alter the determinants of success and failure?

Strategies for managing platform relationships: What strategies can owners of a core technology employ to shape the development of complementary products by others? What can we learn about platform relationships using network analysis? How do firms balance cooperation and competition and reconcile private and collective benefits? How do platform participants manage relationships with external stakeholders? How do firms address social welfare concerns in light of network effects or technological lock-in and lock-out?

Strategies to cope with uncertainty and change: How do firms cope with the transition to new platform generations? How do cognitive constraints and managerial biases related to the uncertainty of platform evolution affect strategic decision-making? What strategies can firms use to achieve radical innovation that disrupts technological lock-in/lock-out in platform-based ecosystems? How do firms cope with platform evolution as firms enter and leave platforms?

Submission Process

Submitted papers must be in accordance with the requirements of the Strategic Management Journal. Original manuscripts are due by the Submission Deadline of XX, 2017, and must be submitted using the SMJ Submission system at Authors should indicate that they would like the submission to be considered for the special issue “Strategies for Platform Ecosystems”. Authors of papers invited to be revised and resubmitted will have the opportunity to present their papers at a conference (the date and venue to be announced later), and will be expected to work within a tight timeframe for revisions.

Further Information

Questions concerning pertaining to this special issue may be directed to:

For questions about submitting to the special issue contact the SMJ Managing Editor, Sara DiBari ( or visit