Moving toward Autonomous Solutions: Exploring the Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Business Ecosystems

Thomas Frandsen, Jawwad Z. Raja*, Isabelle Fabienne Neufang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Incorporating smart digital technologies has been an inevitable next step in transforming manufacturing firms, evident in the emergence of digital servitization. In this paper, we examine how change toward digital servitization is unfolding in the offshore wind industry. We report on an in-depth longitudinal case study of a solution provider and other actors in an ecosystem. We contribute by drawing on activity theory to explain the development of autonomous solutions as epistemic objects. Although digital solutions suggest the compression of time and space, we find instead that spatial-temporal expansion helps us understand the development and co-evolution of business ecosystems, which we describe as being in a state of flux, akin to the movement of an amoeba. Furthermore, we explain how epistemic objects, mediated by using tools, enable the move toward autonomous solutions that create value. In so doing, we argue that ‘autonomous’ solutions are never completely autonomous in the sense that they can exist on their own as objects; they require many other mediating tools to bring them into existence and through which they evolve. Lastly, our findings provide valuable insights into how practitioners may develop advanced digital solutions in their ecosystem to expand expertise networks and foster closer collaboration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Pages (from-to)13-29
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Digital servitization
  • Autonomous solutions
  • Temporal
  • Spatial
  • Business ecosystems
  • Epistemic objects

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