Call for Papers: Special Issue on “Digital platforms and business ecosystems: a multidisciplinary approach for new and sustainable business models”

Guest Editors

María Luz Martín-Peña, Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain
Pablo Cabanelas, University of Vigo, Spain
Natanya Meyer, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

In recent years there has been an increased interest in the academic literature concerning business ecosystems, their functioning and how they affect the competitive environment (Jacobides et al. 2018; Bouncken and Kraus, 2022). In particular, ecosystems within the digital economy are becoming a promising research field requiring a continuous understanding due to its dynamism (Senyo et al. 2019).

The technological (re)-evolution of business ecosystems has favoured an era of high interconnectivity, where digital platforms have facilitated new business models. Technological solutions make it possible to connect people, organizations, and resources through an interactive ecosystem that enables value creation through cooperation, creativity, and exchange activities fostering the expansion of a sharing economy (Ruiz-Alba et al. 2021). This underlying idea explains the high number of digital platforms transforming the competition in most industries, anticipating disruptive changes in other industries in the next years (Berman et al. 2022; Parker et al. 2017). It creates an ideal breeding ground for the emergence of new digital businesses in a growing digitalized world (Martín -Peña et al. 2018; Trischler and Li‑Ying, 2021).

Within the business and academic environments, the concepts of ‘digital platforms’ and ‘business ecosystems’ have been used for many years. However, digital technologies have seen exponential growth due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has transformed the theoretical and managerial approaches required to explain such uncertain and volatile reality. Consequently, in the literature, it is possible to identify various approaches from different fields of research that have created certain confusion on the theoretical foundations facilitating the differentiation between a digital business ecosystem and a digital platform. It is thus necessary to develop a higher comprehension of the concepts and continue advancing in such a vertiginous field of research.

Following research by Adner (2017), it is possible to distinguish two visions associated with the ecosystem: a) an ecosystem as an affiliation distinguished by communities of actors connected and defined by their networks and affiliations to platforms; b) ecosystem as a structure, whose activity is configured around a value proposition and looks for a group of actors that need to interact to articulate the proposal. Furthermore, Jacobides et al. (2018) distinguish between 1) entrepreneurial ecosystems, which focuses on the firm and its environment, 2) innovative ecosystems, which are centred on an innovative value proposition and its constellation of supporting agents; and 3) platform ecosystems dealing with how actors organize around a platform.

Thus, various research streams respond to different concepts, adopting a slightly distinct approach depending on the research objective. This sometimes complicates fully understanding the topics at hand. However, the current research streams also show inherent common characteristics in certain ecosystems. Any business ecosystem includes the interaction among interdependent agents, and the digital platforms become the main tool that facilitates such interaction. Therefore, an ongoing research paradigm studying how digital platforms contribute to orchestrating this ecosystem of actors is evident (Constantinides et al. 2018; Senyo et al. 2019; Hein et al. 2020). Research around digital platforms has emphasized the necessity to better establish the links between the platform and the ecosystem in a world with blurred borders and multiple agents and responsibilities (Foerderer et al. 2019; Karhu et al. 2018).

The significant growth of digital technologies and the associated data created when different actors interact has created a new scenario for managers and academics to attend to new digital challenges by focusing on ecosystems deployed through platforms that can transform existing business models. Since digitalization has an important impact in multiple disciplines, such as operations, logistics, marketing and business strategy, it is convenient to integrate multiple stakeholders such as providers, manufacturers, employees and final users. From the theoretical perspective, a multidisciplinary approach is recommended to understand how those collaborative activities are transformed into valuable solutions for the different parties. These perspectives can focus on the collaborative activities and their contingencies. Focussing on aspects like Transaction Cost Economics, Social Exchange Theory, Institutional Economics, Principal Agent Problem, Social Capital, or Network Governance theories may enhance our overall understanding of how digital platforms and business ecosystems should evolve. Furthermore, focussing on how certain strategies may adapt to a new situation through the Resource Based-View, Dynamic Capabilities Theory, Stakeholder Theory, Contingency Theory, or Chaos Theory may be beneficial.

Current research focusing on digital platforms, ecosystems and business models is noteworthy but requires a higher level of investigation as many important and relevant research questions are yet to be answered. New knowledge about this multi-faceted and evolving phenomenon is still needed as research in business ecosystems combined with digital platforms and their effect on traditional and new business models is scant.

Therefore, this Special Issue aims to promote a contemporary theoretical and empirical background to investigate the phenomena of digital platforms and business ecosystems through an interdisciplinary approach that provides novel research to understand this concept better. We aim to advance the empirical understanding of this new phenomenon and contribute to a more theoretically informed debate in this multidisciplinary, multi-faceted field of research. For the special issue, we welcome research from diverse theoretical perspectives, employing any research methods adequate to address the problem and attending to different units of analysis. Some examples of appropriate topics would include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Antecedents, nature and consequences of the digital platforms and business ecosystems in new business models (in various or specific industries);
  • Functions and structures recommended in digital platforms: impact on sustainable business models;
  • Network governance, regulation and management of business ecosystems and the role of digital platforms;
  • Value co-creation, delivery and capture in business ecosystems through digital platforms;
  • The impact of digital platforms in the customer experience and customer journey through the implication of the different agents in the business ecosystem;
  • Actor dynamics, interactions, and relationships within the digital platforms and in the business ecosystem, guidelines and good practices;
  • Technological disruption and the formation and development of business ecosystems and digital platforms;
  • Socio-technical nature of the digital platforms, a humanistic approach in a digital environment;
  • Development and exploitation of data in digital platform for the value creation in new business models;
  • Platform-based business models and the sharing economy;
  • The advancement of business models and digital platforms as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • Country and/or industry comparisons regarding different business ecosystems and how business models and digital platforms function in these different environments.

Naturally, we welcome all papers that fit with the scope for this CfP. A linkage between submitted papers and ongoing debates in RMS is considered a benefit. Submitted manuscripts must not have been published previously or be considered for publication in other journals. All submitted manuscripts must strictly adhere to RMS’s general author guidelines.

Papers accepted by and presented at CBIM2022 can be sent to this special issue, although the special issue will also be open for papers not presented at the conference. Participation in the conference itself or acceptance of a paper for presentation does not guarantee that the authors will be selected for the RMS special issue.

The submission deadline is the 30 November 2022.


Adner R (2017) Ecosystem as structure: An actionable construct for strategy. J Manag, 43(1):39-58.

Berman A, Mudambi R, Cano-Kollmann M (2022) Innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems: fintech in the financial services industry. Rev Manag Sci, 16:45-64.

Bouncken RB, Kraus S (2022) Entrepreneurial ecosystems in an interconnected world: emergence, governance and digitalization. Rev Manag Sci, 16:1-14.

Constantinides P, Henfridsson O, Parker G (2018) Digital Infrastructure and Platforms in the Digital Age. Infor Syst Res, 29(2):381-400.

Foerderer J, Kude T, Schuetz SW, Heinzl A (2019) Knowledge boundaries in Enterprise software platform development: Antecedents and consequences for platform governance. Infor Syst J, 29(1):119-144.

Hein A, Schreieck M, Riasanow T (2020) Digital platform ecosystems. Electron Markets, 30:87-98. 

Jacobides MG, Cennamo C, Gawer A (2018) Towards a theory of ecosystems. Strateg Manag J, 39(8):2255-2277.

Karhu K, Gustafsson R, Lyytinen K (2018) Exploiting and defending open digital platforms with boundary resources: Android’s five platform forks. Inf Syst Res, 29(2):479-497.

Martín-Peña ML, Díaz-Garrido E, Sánchez-López JM (2018) The digitalization and servitization of manufacturing: A review on digital business models. Strateg Chang 27:91-99.

Parker G, Van Alstyne M, Jiang X (2017) Platform ecosystems: How developers invert the firm. MIS Q, 41(1):255-266.

Ruiz-Alba JL, Abou-Foul M, Nazarian A, Foroudi P (2021) Digital platforms: customer satisfaction, eWOM and the moderating role of perceived technological innovativeness. Inf Technol People, In Press.

Senyo PK, Liu K,  Effah J (2019) Digital business ecosystem: literature review and a framework for future research. Int J Inf Manage 47:52-64.

Trischler MFG, Li-Ying J (2022) Digital business model innovation: toward construct clarity and future research directions. Rev Manag Sci (2022).

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