Abstract

Digital product platforms have emerged due to advancements in enabling technologies such as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), allowing for easy access to distributed functionality and data. In the context of platforms, APIs have been conceptualized as boundary resources and used to analyse platform dynamics. However, these conceptualizations are based on ex-post studies of successful use cases with a core platform and platform firm exerting control at the centre of a business ecosystem. We address the lack of studies on emergent digital platforms and ecosystems without dominant control entity, where involved stakeholders potentially show more complex behaviour. We study the German automotive industry and observe how stakeholders use—or intend to use—APIs for providing access to vehicle-generated data. While preconditions for the emergence of platforms based on this data are met, to date, no eminent or industry-wide platform exists. We use a qualitative approach and 21 expert interviews to explore why APIs can turn into barriers or drivers for platform development. Our preliminary analysis identifies vignettes of barriers and drivers and suggests that future research needs to advance our understanding of the microstructures that undergird the creation of boundary resources in more complex platform and ecosystem settings.

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