Platforms and Strategies: Understanding How Companies can Align Platforms and Strategies

Daniel C. Doll & Dana J. Murphy

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis explores the relevance of aligning platforms with a business's overall strategy. The aim of this thesis is to investigate whether companies have platform specific strategies and what those respective strategies may look like. Relating topics of strategy, traditional pipeline structure, platforms, and value will be considered using existing theories and literature. The research will examine the intent that drives a company’s platform use whether it is new product development, customer feedback or engagement, extending reach, or incremental innovation. The research method applied in this thesis follows an explorative qualitative approach rooted in abductive logic. Empirical evidence was collected through a process of semistructured interviews relying on open-ended questions. The data sample includes experts in from three different categories; platform-based firms, established firms using platforms, and digital consultancies. The split between categories is as follows; one platform-based firm, two established firms using platforms, three digital consultancies. Each interviewee held a senior position within the firm and in some cases were also Co-Founders of the firm itself or a division within the firm. Interviewing founders or people in executive positions at the firms added a level of richness and quality to the data that helped to offset the smaller sample size. The analysis consists of two parts. First, the interviews are independently analysed in a chronological fashion. Each respective interview analysis is structured by key topics or themes rather than question by question. Secondly, both insights and key themes identified in the individual interview analyses will be discussed in their relation to previously reviewed and new literature. The key themes discovered across interviews are internal innovation, organisational change, and value. Finally, as a culmination of the combined research, data collection, and analysis process answers to the research question will be presented in the discussion and conclusion. Thus, a key finding is that important for companies to have a dedicated team responsible for managing platform dynamics as they are a supporting function to the firm’s overall strategy. A proposal for a revised research question, an acknowledgment of limitations, and suggestions for further research conclude this thesis.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages97
SupervisorsMichael J. Mol