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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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6 Discussion


This study was motivated by the intention to improve our understanding of how small complementor organizations in the enterprise software industry coordinate the partnership with a larger platform vendor and how these coordination mech- anisms may improve partnership success from the complementors’ point of view. Previous studies were able to explain the motivation of hubs and spokes re- spectively to enter partnership networks by analyzing resource complementarities (Huang et al., 2009; Kude et al., 2012; Arndt et al., 2009, 2008; Mathiassen and Vainio, 2007). In addition, the influence of the network structure and the type of link between the partners’ products on partnership or network success has been discussed (Gao and Iyer, 2008; Chellappa and Saraf, 2010; Iyer et al., 2006). This study is the first to examine the role of coordination when examining the link between resource complementarity and partnership success from the spoke organization’s point of view. The study draws on theoretical contributions from reference disciplines, such as the RBV (Barney, 1986) and its derivatives (Amit and Schoemaker, 1993; Grant, 1996b; Eisenhardt and Schoonhoven, 1996), the relational view of competitive advantage (Dyer and Singh, 1998), and the RDT (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978). This study examines the role of coordination by introducing the degree of organizational coupling that spokes aim at. In doing so, the study makes im- portant theoretical contributions and leads to several managerial implications. This chapter provides an in-depth discussion of these contributions to theory and practice. In addition, this chapter discusses the limitations...

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