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The Translucent Hand of Managed Ecosystems: Engaging Communities for Value Creation and Capture
Altman, E. J., Nagle, F., & Tushman, M. L.
Management research has increasingly explored the domains of ecosystems, platforms, and open/user/distributed innovation—governance structures focused on engaging with external communities. While these research areas include substantial empirical and theoretical work and share notable similarities, the literature streams have evolved separately, limiting our ability to understand underlying mechanisms and dynamics. We comprehensively review these distinct literatures to highlight commonalities and induce novel insights. We introduce the overarching concept of the “managed ecosystem” governance structure through which an organization engages external communities for value creation and capture such that the locus of activity resides outside organizational boundaries while the locus of control remains within the organization. It represents a “translucent hand” between the invisible hand of the market and visible hand of the organizational hierarchy. Because the extant literature only lightly addresses incumbent organizations transitioning to these models and rarely touches upon those operating with multiple governance structures simultaneously, we further review and synthesize research on organizational adaptation and ambidexterity. From this integrative review, we identify capabilities to execute managed ecosystems, including “shepherding communities without exploiting them,” “managing data and intellectual property,” “ecosystem-driven open adaptation,” and “ambidextrous governance.” We additionally present opportunities for future research across these research domains.
Altman, E. J., Nagle, F., & Tushman, M. L. (2022). The translucent hand of managed ecosystems: Engaging communities for value creation and capture. Academy of Management Annals, 16(1), 70-101. doi: https://journals.aom.org/doi/10.5465/annals.2020.0244