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Abstract

Multi-sided platforms (MSP) are revolutionizing the global competitive landscape in the new networked economy. Yet, although these MSPs are underpinned by information systems (IS), there is currently little research on how the IS capabilities of the platform sponsor can influence, and co-evolve with, the development of the platform over time. The lack of knowledge in this area may account for the difficulties faced by a significant number of platform sponsors in developing their MSPs effectively. Using a case study of Alibaba.com, one of the world’s largest and most commercially successful online MSP, we inductively derive a process theory of MSP development from an IS capability perspective to address this knowledge gap. The process model reveals that the role of IS capabilities in MSP development is evolutionary in nature, and the antecedent IS capabilities, nature, and outcomes of MSP development can be dramatically different in the various stages of development.

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