Research Papers

Abstract

Ecosystems are arenas where firms build, nurture and exploit relationships to create, share and appropriate value. Some actors have particular control over how ecosystems perform and evolve, becoming their intermediary centers of gravity. They are often referred to as orchestrators. While it is increasingly clear what digital orchestration is and how it is exercised, we still know little about the process of becoming a digital orchestrator. Filling this void is important, since incumbent firms face major competing concerns as they transform themselves for digital orchestration. Unless learning to overcome such challenges, an incumbent may lose its dominant position, ultimately making it an existential issue. In this research, we seek to better understand how incumbent firms reorganize for becoming digital orchestrators. In doing so, we draw on the literature about digital platforms and digital innovation to derive a framework where we articulate three characteristics of digital orchestration. We then make a deep-dive into an incumbent firm in the forest industry, applying the framework to analyze how it is exploring different organizational forms in becoming a digital orchestrator. We contribute to the ecosystem literature by outlining three specific tactics for how to reorganize for digital orchestration: cross-functional, inter-organizational and cross-geographical reconfiguration.

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