Value Creation in Innovation Ecosystems: How the Structure of Technological Interdependence Affects Firm Performance in New Technology Generations

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Management Papers
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technological change
first mover advantage
business ecosystem
vertical integration
semiconductor lithography
Business Administration, Management, and Operations
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Adner, Ron
Kapoor, Rahul

The success of an innovating firm often depends on the efforts of other innovators in its environment. How do the challenges faced by external innovators affect the focal firm's outcomes? To address this question we first characterize the external environment according to the structure of interdependence. We follow the flow of inputs and outputs in the ecosystem to distinguish between upstream components that are bundled by the focal firm, and downstream complements that are bundled by the firm's customers. We hypothesize that the effects of external innovation challenges depend not only on their magnitude, but also on their location in the ecosystem relative to the focal firm. We identify a key asymmetry that results from the location of challenges relative to a focal firm—greater upstream innovation challenges in components enhance the benefits that accrue to technology leaders, while greater downstream innovation challenges in complements erode these benefits. We further propose that the effectiveness of vertical integration as a strategy to manage ecosystem interdependence increases over the course of the technology life cycle. We explore these arguments in the context of the global semiconductor lithography equipment industry from its emergence in 1962 to 2005 across nine distinct technology generations. We find strong empirical support for our framework.

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Strategic Management Journal
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