Sustaining complementor engagement in digital platform ecosystems: Antecedents, behaviours and engagement trajectories

Apr 23rd, 2023 | By | Category: RSS Feed


Digital platform ecosystems increasingly dominate the enterprise software domain, and the persistence of platforms depends on the sustained engagement of complementors. However, there is a limited understanding of its antecedents, complementors’ evaluation of antecedents and the manifestations and dynamic changes of complementors’ engagement. Therefore, we investigate complementors’ engagement within platform ecosystems over time. We draw on actor and stakeholder engagement from service research to conceptualise complementor engagement (CE) and create an integrated empirical understanding of CE and its dynamics in digital platform ecosystems. Our embedded case study builds on 30 interviews with complementors in Anubis and Osiris enterprise software platform ecosystems. Inductive data analysis reveals five CE antecedents: platform resources and rules, platform value proposition, platform agents, customer needs and other complementors’ value propositions. The antecedents are associated with three CE behaviours: generating, networking and synchronising. Further analysis of CE over time resulted in 26 different sequences representing stable and changing engagement trajectories, the latter comprising selective, growing and abating engagement as subcategories. We show how complementors’ evaluations of antecedents lead to behaviour changes, providing a novel perspective on the dynamics underlying CE. Finally, we link complementors’ evaluation outcomes to their (dis)satisfaction, contributing to the discussion on what drives and impedes CE. The findings implicate the debate on dynamic platform governance and inform platform owners about using cooperative and competitive approaches in the short and long term.


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