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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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7 Summary and conclusion


The goal of this study was to build a mid-range theory that explains how com- plementor organizations in the enterprise software industry coordinate the part- nership with larger platform vendors and how coordination mechanisms influence partnership success. In order to do so, this study took a qualitative approach and conducted a multiple-case study of spoke organizations that participate in the partnership networks of two hubs. After giving an introduction in the first chapter, the second chapter presented the study’s theoretical foundations. Specifically, the enterprise software industry and the recent trend toward inter-organizational hub-and-spoke networks was introduced. Then, previous research both in IS and in adjacent disciplines was discussed. Based on this extant literature, a preliminary framework was deduced that guided the subsequent empirical research. Chapter 3 gave an in-depth discussion on the research methodology of this study. The approach of conducting two rounds of positivist, qualitative case studies to explore and refine a theoretical model that answers the study’s re- search questions was explained and justified. Chapter 4 and 5 presented the results of these two rounds of multiple-case studies. While the exploratory phase developed in Chapter 4 was structured along the theoretical links that emerged from the analysis of the empirical data, the refinement phase reported in Chapter 5 presented single cases in a comprehensive way to corroborate the explanatory power of the developed models. In addition, Chapter 5 elaborated on the re- sults of a cross-case analysis that was conducted with the goal...

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