Understanding Ecosystem Emergence: A Qualitative Analysis of the Role of Coopetition in Ecosystem Emergence

Catharina Schumann-Plekat & Laura Kastner

Student thesis: Master thesis


With rising challenges driven by societal and economical changes, ecosystems have become a major source for solving problems in the 21st century. Through the emergence of ecosystems, companies are able to deploy solutions to those problems and create value that one actor alone cannot achieve. In order for both firms and society to benefit from ecosystems, this thesis aims at understanding how they come into being. In recent years, ecosystem research has gained considerable attention. However, insights on how ecosystems emerge are limited. This study aims to fill the knowledge gap by consulting the research field of coopetition, the co-existence of cooperative and competitive dynamics among firms. As a result, the research objective of this thesis is to understand the preconditions of coopetition and how they impact the emergence of ecosystems. Applying a qualitative research method, we conducted a case study and collected qualitative data by executing 15 semi-structured interviews. The analysis of the data demonstrates that the following conditions are needed for an ecosystem to emerge. The anticipation of added value among actors must include three aspects for an ecosystem to emerge: profitability for the businesses involved, value for the customer and overall common good. This can be achieved when the actors first, complement each other in terms of their products and knowledge and second, are aligned on the goal that they want to co-achieve. It is found that a neutral entity has the potential to enable communication, ensure goal alignment and support coordination of value co-creation. These conditions combined have a facilitating effect on ecosystem emergence. Our results confirm that coopetition has a meaningful influence on ecosystems. Ultimately, the depth of our insights contribute to existing knowledge in that they uncover the complexity of ecosystem emergence. Keywords: Ecosystem, Ecosystem Emergence, Coopetition, Mobility as a Service

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages320
SupervisorsPhilipp Hukal