Ulrich Pidun, Martin Reeves, Maximilian Schüssler

A business ecosystem is a dynamic group of largely independent economic players that create products or services that together constitute a coherent solution.

This definition implies that each ecosystem can be characterized by a specific value proposition (the desired solution) and by a clearly defined, albeit changing, group of actors with different roles (such as producer, supplier, orchestrator, complementor). The definition excludes some of the more diffuse concepts of ecosystems that describe mere affiliation, such as geographic industry clusters (Silicon Valley or the Boston biotech cluster) or company partnership networks (Toyota and its suppliers or Google and its broad network of partners) without a clear relation to a specific business problem.


We suggest thinking of a business ecosystem as a solution to a business problem, as a way to organize in order to realize a specific value proposition. To this end, a business ecosystem is a governance model that competes with other ways of organizing the creation of a product or service, such as a vertically integrated organization, a hierarchical supply chain, or an open-market model.

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