Sub-theme 61: Organizing Platforms: What Are the New Forms and Practices?

Georg Reischauer
WU Vienna & Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
Ivanka Visnjic
ESADE Business School, Spain
Stefan Häfliger
City, University of London, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

With the rise of digital technologies, scholars are paying increasing attention to how these technologies are changing the organization of innovation and strategy processes and how organizations use this technology to shape social life more broadly (Haefliger, 2019; Reischauer & Mair, 2017). Platforms have been at the heart of many debates about how digital technologies shape organizing (Gawer, 2011), crossing disciplinary boundaries between economics, strategy, and organization studies (Ciborra, 1996; Robertson & Ulrich, 1998; Rochet & Tirole, 2003). A recent surge in interest could be attributed to deeper interest in how purpose and value creation extends beyond any one firm to cover ecosystems (Jacobides et al., 2018; Parida et al., 2019;): the key questions include when and how platforms add value, what forms they take and what practices they support.
An important line of inquiry examines organizational forms that allow platforms to thrive and innovate. For example, studies of business incubators showcased the challenges and dynamics involved in attaining legitimacy in new institutional settings (Reischauer, 2018; Tracey et al., 2018). Studies of organizations operating a digital platform to connect multiple sides hold specific challenges when connecting value creation with value capture, that is the business model they build, implement and change (Baden-Fuller & Haefliger, 2013; Haefliger et al., 2011; Reischauer & Mair, 2018a).
Another important body of research examines practices to organize innovation and strategy processes on platforms. For instance, scholars showcased how narrative practices can be used to construct a steady influx of captivating stories of transformative change vis-à-vis rapid technological change (Dalpiaz & Di Stefano, 2018). A rising interest in how portfolios of business models can be managed (Aversa et al., 2017) points to practices of customer engagement and positive as well as negative network effects between customer groups. Likewise, practices within and targeted at online communities to nurture collaboration have been identified as a key means to innovate and to drive collaborative strategy processes (Garud et al., 2008; Reischauer & Mair, 2018b). The question of openness represents an ongoing puzzle for innovation and strategy in that opening up innovation processes can lead to fundamental gains as well as invite risks (Bogers et al., 2016) and the strategic implications can point to the core of what the organization is about (Hautz et al., 2017).
The process of becoming a platform leader is a fundamental challenge to incumbents who need to decide about the level of access and openness when inviting complementors and ecosystem participants, clients as much as competitors. Adoption can be a key advantage of openness and free revealing (Alexy et al., 2013) and tensions require careful management for incumbents who are platform leaders (Wareham et al., 2014).
While research has progressed, there is still much to learn about how to organize with and for platforms as well as how they are organized. To further advance research in an inclusive manner, we invite papers rooted in organization studies, innovation studies, strategy, information systems, philosophy, economics, psychology, and sociology, amongst others. While we specifically seek innovative empirical studies that utilize new data sources, all kind of papers – qualitative, mixed methods, quantitative, conceptual – are equally welcome. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Which theoretical perspectives are most adequate to better understand how to organize platforms for effective innovation?

  • How can we better understand the cultural, material, spatial, and temporal dimensions of organizing for innovation and strategy processes?

  • What is the role of digital technologies in organizing for innovation and strategy, especially with respect to materiality and performativity?

  • What social and organizational practices do actors use to organize innovation and strategy processes and how do these practices differ over time?

  • How to individuals respond to new ways to organize innovation and strategy processes?

  • Under what conditions at the individual, organizational, industry, and/or institutional level are which forms and practices to organize innovation and strategy more and less suitable?

  • How do social evaluations (e.g., stigma, legitimacy, identity) influence the organization of innovation and strategy and how do social evaluations change due to participating in these collaborations?

  • What social and organizational practices do actors use to organize innovation and strategy processes and how do these practices differ over time?

  • How to individuals respond to new ways to organize innovation and strategy processes?

  • What roles and digital tools do individuals use to navigate these processes?

  • What are the ethics of digital innovation and strategy processes?


  • Alexy, O., George, G., & Salter, A.J. (2013): “Cui bono? The selective revealing of knowledge and its implications for innovative activity.” Academy of Management Review, 38 (2), 270–291.
  • Aversa, P., Haefliger, S., & Reza, D.G. (2017): “Building a winning business model portfolio.” MIT Sloan Management Review, 58 (4), 49–54.
  • Baden-Fuller C., & Haefliger, S. (2013): “Business models and technological innovation.” Long Range Planning, 46 (6), 419–426.
  • Bogers, M., Zobel, A.-K., Afuah, A., Almirall, E., Brunswicker, S., et al. (2017): “The open innovation research landscape: Established perspectives and emerging themes across different levels of analysis.” Industry and Innovation, 24 (1), 8–40.
  • Ciborra, C. (1996): “The platform organization: Recombining strategies, structures, and surprises.” Organization Science, 7 (2), 103–118.
  • Dalpiaz, E., Rindova, V., & Ravasi, D. (2016): “Combining logics to transform organizational agency: Blending industry and art at Alessi.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 61 (3), 347–392.
  • Garud, R., Jain, S., & Tuertscher, P. (2008): “Incomplete by design and designing for incompleteness.” Organization Studies, 29 (3), 351–371.
  • Gawer, A., (2011): Platforms, Markets and Innovation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Gawer, A., & Phillips, N. (2013): “Institutional work as logics shift: The case of Intel’s transformation to platform leader.” Organization Studies, 34 (8), 1035–1071.
  • Haefliger, S. (2019): “Orientations of open strategy: From resistance to transformation.” In: D. Seidl, G. von Krogh & R. Whittington (eds.): Cambridge Handbook of Open Strategy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 151–166.
  • Haefliger, S., Monteiro, E., Foray, D., & von Krogh, G. (2011): “Social software and strategy.” Long Range Planning, 44 (5), 297–316.
  • Hautz, J., Seidl, D., & Whittington, R. (2017): “Open strategy: Dimensions, dilemmas, dynamics.” Long Range Planning, 50 (3), 298–309.
  • Jacobides, M.G., Cennamo, C., & Gawer, A. (2018): “Towards a theory of ecosystems.” Strategic Management Journal, 39 (8), 2255–2276.
  • Mair, J., & Reischauer, G. (2017): “Capturing the dynamics of the sharing economy: Institutional research on the plural forms and practices of sharing economy organizations.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 125, 11–20.
  • Parida, V., Burström, T., Visnjic, I., & Wincent, J. (2019): “Orchestrating industrial ecosystem in circular economy: A two-stage transformation model for large manufacturing companies.” Journal of Business Research, 101, 715–725.
  • Reischauer, G. (2018): “Industry 4.0 as policy-driven discourse to institutionalize innovation systems in manufacturing.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 132, 26–33.
  • Reischauer, G., & Mair, J. (2018a): “Platform organizing in the new digital economy: Revisiting online communities and strategic responses.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 57, 113–135.
  • Reischauer, G., & Mair, J. (2018b): “How organizations strategically govern online communities: Lessons from the sharing economy.” Academy of Management Discoveries, 4 (3), 220–247.
  • Rullani, F., & Haefliger, S. (2013): “The periphery on stage: The intra-organizational dynamics in online communities of creation.” Research Policy, 42 (4), 941–953.
  • Seidel, M.-D.L., & Greve, H.R. (2017): “Emergence: How novelty, growth, and formation shape organizations and their ecosystems.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 50, 1–27.
  • Tracey, P., Dalpiaz, E., & Phillips, N. (2018): “Fish out of water: Translation, legitimation, and new venture creation.” Academy of Management Journal, 61 (5), 1627–1666.
  • Wareham, J., Fox, P.B., & Cano Giner, J.L. (2014): “Technology ecosystem governance.” Organization Science, 25 (4), 1195–1215.
Georg Reischauer is an Assistant Professor at WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria, and a Fellow at Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria. His research focuses on the nexus of digital strategy, digital organization, and digital sustainability.
Ivanka Visnjic is an Associate Professor of Innovation at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain, where she also acts as a Director of Institute for Innovation and Knowledge Management. Ivanka’s research, teaching and advisory activities are at the intersection of innovation, strategy and operations management with focus on discontinuous technological shifts, disruptive innovation and business model innovation.
Stefan Häfliger is Professor of Strategic Management and Innovation and the Associate Dean for People and Culture at Cass Business School, City, University of London, United Kingdom. In his research and teaching Stefan focuses on co-creation strategies as well as knowledge reuse, creation, and design in innovation processes. Most recent projects include studies in new product development in automotive, exploring portfolios of business models in technology firms, and the creation of compliance in large banks.