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The Coordination of Inter-Organizational Networks in the Enterprise Software Industry

The Perspective of Complementors

Series:

Thomas Kude

In the enterprise software industry, large platform vendors have established partner networks with smaller providers of complementary solutions. This study takes the perspective of these complementors. How do they coordinate their partnerships with platform vendors? What are the circumstances under which different coordination mechanisms lead to partnership success? Based on existing theories and the findings from extensive qualitative research, a new explanatory model is developed. The study contributes to theory building efforts in the Information Systems discipline as well as in adjacent fields by providing a better understanding of partnership coordination and success. The implications for successful partnership management are highly relevant for practitioners.

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List of Figures xiii List of Tables xv List of Abbreviations xvii 1 Introduction 1 1.1 Problem statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1.2 Research objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 1.3 Research design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 1.4 Study organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 2 Theoretical foundation 9 2.1 Network structures in the enterprise software industry . . . . . . . 9 2.1.1 The emergence of enterprise software systems . . . . . . . 10 2.1.2 Inter-firm networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 2.1.3 The coordination of inter-firm networks . . . . . . . . . . . 19 2.1.4 The role of complementors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 2.2 Previous work on inter-organizational networks . . . . . . . . . . 26 2.2.1 Existing work in the field of information systems . . . . . . 27 2.2.1.1 Partnership motives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 2.2.1.2 Structural properties and success . . . . . . . . . 30 2.2.1.3 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 2.2.2 Theories of the firm as reference theories . . . . . . . . . . 33 2.2.2.1 Firm resources and capabilities . . . . . . . . . . 35 2.2.2.2 The relational view of competitive advantage . . 40 2.2.2.3 The resource dependence theory . . . . . . . . . . 44 2.2.2.4 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 x Contents 2.3 A model of hub-and-spoke networks in the enterprise software in- dustry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 2.4 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 3 Research design 53 3.1 Selection of a research strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 3.2 Specification of the case study strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 3.3 Data collection and analysis procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 3.4 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 4 Empirical exploration and theory development 67 4.1 Data selection and analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 4.2 Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 4.2.1 Complementarity of resources and capabilities . . . . . . . 75 4.2.1.1 Access to a hub’s technological capital . . . . . . 76 4.2.1.2 Access to a hub’s commercial capital . . . . . . . 77 4.2.1.3 Access to a hub’s social capital . . . . . . . . . . 79 4.2.2 Complementarity and coordination . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 4.2.2.1 Relation-specific investments . . . . . . . . . . . 81 4.2.2.2 Informal governance mechanisms . . . . . . . . . 83 4.2.2.3 Perceived complementarity and organizational cou- pling...

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