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Digital platforms and ecosystems: Remarks on the dominant organizational forms of the digital age - 28 Mar 2023

We hosted a research seminar with Professor Annabelle Gawer (Surrey Business School) who presented results from 3 recent outputs of her 20+ year research on platforms and ecosystems.

During this seminar Professor Annabelle Gawer briefly presented the main ideas of her book "The Business of Platforms: Strategy in the Age of Digital Competition, Innovation, and Power". Further, she summarised the main results of her report for the European Parliament examining the economic and societal effects of online platforms. Finally, she discussed a recent paper on the evolution of platform firms: "Digital Platforms Boundaries: The Interplay of firm scope, platform sides, and digital interfaces" which explains why we see so much variation in boundaries across platforms and over time. Please see the abstract below.

This seminar represented an integrative and important part of the House of Innovation's strategy to build a research environment through engagement with prominent guests and their work.

This seminar was part of the Academic Seminar Series offered in cooperation with the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship.


This article explores what factors drive digital platform firms to set or modify their boundaries. Building on economics, strategic management, and information systems research, I suggest that digital platforms make strategic decisions over three distinct types of interrelated boundaries: (1) the scope of the platform firm (what assets are owned, what labor is employed, and what activities are performed by the firm), (2) the configuration and composition of the platform's sides (which distinct groups of customers have access to the platform), and (3) the digital interfaces (that specify the 2-way exchange of data between the platform firm and each of its sides). In this article, I explore the interdependence between these seemingly separate decisions and the role of some important moderating variables. These moderators include whether the platform is a transaction or an innovation platform, and the extent to which the platform has developed from its initial formation stage. My work explains why we see so much variation in boundaries across platforms and over time.


About Annabelle Gawer

Annabelle Gawer, Clarivate 2022 Highly-Cited Researcher (Economics & Business), is Chaired Professor in Digital Economy at Surrey Business School and Director of the Centre of Digital Economy (CoDE) at the University of Surrey. She is also Visiting Professor of Strategy & Innovation at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. For over 20 years, Annabelle Gawer has been a leading scholar and a thought-leader on the business of digital platforms and innovation ecosystems, which constitute the dominant business model of our times. She is the most-cited female academic in the UK for Economics & Business (Clarivate 2022 Highly-Cited Researcher). She is the author or coauthor of 4 books and over 40 academic articles in top international journals in management, innovation, economics, and organisation studies. 
A lot of her publications can be found on Google Scholar.
Her latest book "The Business of Platforms: Strategy in the Age of Digital Competition, Innovation, and Power" (HarperCollins) was coauthored with M Cusumano (MIT) and D Yoffie (Harvard Business School). Annabelle has extensive public policy and private consultancy experience, having served as an Expert for the EU Commission and Parliament, the UK House of Lords, the OECD, and UK government departments. She was recently appointed as Digital Expert for the UK Competition and Markets Authority, and recently completed a consulting project with the World Bank on the regulation of digital platforms in developing countries.
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