Responding to platform owner moves: A 14?year qualitative study of four enterprise software complementors

Jun 26th, 2024 | By | Category: RSS Feed


Integrating the competition and the cooperation perspectives on value co-creation in platform ecosystems, this study explores complementor responses to platform owner moves that adversely affect the complementor’s positioning. Our primary focus is to discern dynamic patterns of complementor responses and to understand their role in the process of re-stabilising the complementor’s positioning. To this end, we conducted a 14-year longitudinal study, analysing 21 move-response instances across four platform partnerships. Our findings reveal three distinct complementor response archetypes: insist, pivot, and detach. Over time, complementors combine these archetypes into three unique response patterns. Through progressive diverging, complementors sidestep platform owner moves by diversifying their offer beyond the focal ecosystem. Although this can entail substantial multi-homing costs, it reduces dependence on the platform owner and bolsters resilience against future moves. Through adaptive oscillating, complementors use platform owner moves as opportunities to gradually diversify their offer within the focal ecosystem. This stepwise market expansion makes them resilient against future moves, while mitigating costs and efforts related to multi-homing. Through persistent insisting, complementors can re-establish their previous positioning, but at the cost of increased dependence on the platform owner, leaving the complementor vulnerable to future moves. We synthesise these findings in our process model of complementor positioning. Emphasising the importance of complementor responses in fostering resilient software ecosystems, this model bears important implications for research on platform governance and platform-dependent entrepreneurship.


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