Whitepaper „Seizing the Potentials of Business Ecosystems“


EBS, FIR and University of St. Gallen publish recommendations for value-adding collaboration in ecosystems.

The joint white paper "Seizing the Potentials of Ecosystems" by researchers from the EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht, the FIR at RWTH Aachen University and the University of St. Gallen presents the core characteristics of business ecosystems based on the latest research findings and best practices. The team derives recommendations for sustainable competitive advantages.

Ecosystems represent new forms of value creation across company and industry boundaries. They are emerging in all industries and form the basis for the most valuable companies. Between 2015 and 2021, for example, 23% of all startups rated as "unicorns" (i.e., valued at more than $1 billion) had their business model significantly aligned with ecosystem value creation. At the same time, 22 of the S&P (Standard & Poor's.) Top 100 companies operated significantly in ecosystems, representing 40% of the S&P Top 100 market capitalization. Successful companies prove that both customers and companies benefit from ecosystems. The enormous potential for value creation is generating massive interest in this new way of doing business, but there is often a lack of common understanding about what ecosystems actually are and can do. An interdisciplinary team of researchers has therefore characterized the nature of ecosystems on the basis of three levels and a total of nine core properties:

Ecosystem Core

  1. Shared purpose and vision
  2. Co-creation between stakeholders
  3. Modular, complementary solutions


Ecosystem relationships

  1. Multilateral relationships
  2. Autonomous actors
  3. Information-based value creation

Ecosystem milieu

  1. Shared values
  2. Shared technological infrastructure
  3. Network effects

Based on this classification, the research team provides concrete recommendations in the white paper for achieving sustainable competitive advantages in the technological, social and economic environment in ecosystems. Best practices from experienced managers from established industrial companies and digital startups illustrate how the core characteristics of ecosystems are put into practice.

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