Digital Infrastructure Evolution as Generative Entrenchment: The Formation of a Core-periphery Structure

Joan Rodon Modol*, Ben Eaton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

41 Downloads (Pure)


This paper empirically investigates the process by which a digital infrastructure evolved and took the architectural form of a digital platform as a core-periphery structure over a 20-year pe-riod. Our study pays special attention to the developmental dependencies of the components of the infrastructure’s installed base and how the interdependencies between the platform core and periphery evolve over time. We use the notion of “generative entrenchment” to provide an ac-count of the formation and unfolding of a core-periphery structure from an evolving digital in-frastructure that highlights three aspects of the process. First, the process of architectural evolu-tion that our study depicts, comprises three phases showing a gradual reversal of the entrench-ment relationship of the platform core and periphery: 1) Entrenchment of the periphery; 2) Mu-tual entrenchment of the core and periphery; and 3) Entrenchment of the core. Second, we show how the generatively entrenched infrastructure’s installed base shaped the decisions and choices regarding the initial platform core. Third, we identify three architectural practices (creating re-dundancy in the core; augmenting the core with novelty; and reducing the heterogeneity of an entrenched peripherical component and later integrating it into the core) that weakened the en-trenchment of the peripherical components, amplified the role of the core, and consolidated the core-periphery structure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Information Technology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)342-364
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 29 May 2021


  • Digital infrastructure
  • Digital platform
  • Architecture
  • Core-periphery structure
  • Generative entrenchment
  • Evolution
  • Installed base

Cite this