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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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4 Empirical exploration and theory development


The previous chapters have elaborated on foundations of this study and discussed its methodological approach. A two-staged procedure was selected that consists of an exploratory case study, followed by a refinement phase. This chapter presents the study’s exploratory phase which has the goal to develop a model that is able to explain how complementors coordinate the partnership with the larger hub and how these coordination efforts lead to partnership success. The exploratory phase is guided by the basic theoretical framework formulated in Section 2.4 and draws upon a multiple-case study as well as existing literature. The following sections first present the detailed description of the cases as well as the data collection and analysis procedure. Next, the development of the explanatory model is presented. 4.1 Data selection and analysis As described in Section 3.3, this study focuses on the partnership networks of two hub organizations (HUB A and HUB B) that have fostered networks of organiza- tions that complement their respective platform. Out of these networks of spoke organizations, 17 companies were selected that participate in a partnership with one of the two hubs, eight of them with HUB A and nine with HUB B. Table 4.1 gives a description of the case companies’ core businesses. As described in Chapter 3, data was collected through expert interviews within each spoke’s organization as well as by gathering secondary material on the case companies. Since the research question of this study is concerned with issues of strategic relevance, executives of...

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