The Role of Platforms and New Technologies in the Scaling up of Innovative Service Ecosystems
Scaling-up of innovative service ecosystems is a hot topic for both manages and scholars. Since every service ecosystem has a distinctive set of actors, resources, norms, rules and habits, Barile et al. (2016, p.663) argue that the viability of an ecosystem “depends on its ability to adapt to a changing environment by identifying a role to play in each context”. Scaling-up represents a special role for actors to play when adapting to and taking advantage of changing environments (Edvardsson et al., 2018).
Paina and Peters (2012, p. 367) refer to scaling up as “a set of processes that lead to expanded and sustainable coverage of services, and involves strengthening the capacity of delivery organizations, increasing diversity and robustness of funding and management arrangements, and growing the system’s overall capabilities to add more services or to integrate services”.
Despite the use of the scaling-up concept in various streams of literature, few conceptual models and empirical studies (i.e., Subramanian et al. 2011; Di Pietro et al., 2017) present models that explain how the scaling-up process is initiated, emerge and become institutionalized. Thus, it emerges a need for both conceptual and empirical research into this phenomenon (Wright and Stigliani, 2013).
Innovation evolves by exploring and exploiting changes and emerging opportunities (Bacon et al., 2008), that requires entrepreneurial abilities and strategies to make the process unfold, become institutionalized and successful (Adner, 2006). A crucial role is also played by information technologies (IT) and platform, which create novel opportunities through the integration of digital components (Lusch & Numbisan, 2015). This, in turn, generates new institutional arrangements (Westley and Antadze, 2010), but can we explain how service ecosystems scale-up? Which is the contribution of IT and platform to the scaling up of service ecosystem?
The aim is to explain how innovative service ecosystems scale up, using a service-dominant logic lens. Moreover, according to Lusch and Numbisan, (2015), we intend to investigate the role of IT in fostering the scaling up. The focus is on identifying empirically grounded phases that describe the scaling-up process as the basis for an extended conceptual framework on the scaling up of service innovations informed by effectuation theory. A reflexive research design is used together with empirical data from eight fast-growing business ecosystems. The study builds on a conceptual framework (Di Pietro et al. 2017) of drivers, explaining why innovations scale up.
The article contributes with an extended conceptualization and empirically grounded drivers, explaining how scaling-up phases emerge and form the scaling up process, emphasizing the role of ICT and key actors, often referred to as the entrepreneur.