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

The Perspective of Complementors


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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3 Research design


The goal of this study is to build a mid-range theory that explains how com- plementors in the enterprise software industry (successfully) coordinate the rela- tionship with platform vendors and that is accessible to theory testing (Gregor, 2006). In order to reach this goal, a careful selection and rigorous application of an appropriate and instrumental research design is crucial. Therefore, this chapter presents the selection and implementation of a qualitative multiple-case study as a research strategy. The epistemological stance of the study, the research process, as well as the data collection and analysis procedure are discussed in de- tail. In particular, this chapter elaborates on the successive procedure of first, conducting an exploratory case study based on the general frame presented in Chapter 2 and second, carrying out a second case study in order to substantiate and refine the developed mid-range theory. 3.1 Selection of a research strategy As discussed in Chapter 2, there has be a paucity of previous research on the coordination of inter-firm networks in the enterprise software industry. The goal of this study is to fill this gap and build an explanatory model that answers the research question of how complementors coordinate the partnership with platform vendors and how coordination leads to partnership success. In order to do so, case study research (Yin, 2009; Eisenhardt, 1989; Benbasat et al., 1987; Lee, 1989), a method which has been widely used in IS research (Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991; Alavi and Carlson, 1992; Vessey et al., 2002;...

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