Challenges to Co-Creating Value in Nascent Platform Ecosystems: Gaps Between Theory and Practice

Florian Hawlitschek and Daniel Hodapp
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 28, Number 2, 2024, pp. 156-185.


Digital platform ecosystems have formed profitable centers of gravity over the past decade. However, in several areas, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), the platform business is still in its infancy. Moreover, platform ventures are now failing at an alarming rate. The nexus for the success or failure of platforms often lies in the early stages of platform development. Value co-creation in nascent platform ecosystems is subject to specific challenges that impede platform success. Today, the literature on nascent platform ecosystems is fragmented and in a nascent stage as well, making in-depth theoretical discourse and useful managerial implications difficult. Therefore, we first conduct a comprehensive literature review through the theoretical lens of service innovation for nascent digital platforms to highlight today’s research foci. Next, we identify the main gaps between the academic literature and practical interest in nascent platform ecosystems through a Delphi study with 21 experts from leading IoT organizations. Through our finding we reveal five gaps where managerial interest is strong but theory is lacking from the discourse on nascent platform ecosystems: fear of lock-in, fear of an overly dominant platform, designing for trust, identifying the right partners, and a common language. In doing so, we provide important orientation to guide future theoretical work toward impactful management implications. Beyond that, we present a research framework and agenda that take into account the dynamic aspects of emerging platform ecosystems and thus complement existing theoretical foundations.