Research Area Business Ecosystems: Presentation of the current research project: Conceptualizing the accumulation of value (value capture) through a framework

Within the Competence Center Ecosystems of the Business Engineering Institute St. Gallen we develop solutions for relevant problems from practice. For this purpose, we use scientific methods within a consortium research project (cf. Oesterle and Otto, 2010). In this paper, I provide insight into the current research project in the research area Business Ecosystems. Here, I develop a framework for conceptualizing the accumulation of value (value capture). In other words, I try to explain what actors of business ecosystems “have” and what influences accumulation.

Companies are increasingly no longer acting alone when they generate services for end customers. More and more, they are acting in complex networks of different players who jointly satisfy the desire for solutions for end customers that are complex to generate (cf. Dattée, Alexy, and Autio, 2018; Hannah and Eisenhardt, 2018; Autio and Thomas, 2022).

A special form of these complex networks is described as business ecosystems (Moore, 1993; Jacobides, Cennamo and Gawer, 2018). Business ecosystems provide the opportunity for unique solutions to be created that no actor would have been able to do alone (Adner, 2006, 2017). This is because actors can combine their skills and resources in unique ways.

In today’s world, the development of these Business Ecosystems is supported by two developments in particular:

  1. Customer demand for complex products is increasing, and technology groups in particular are demonstrating how integrated services from different players can be offered in a single product or service for the customer.
  2. Digitization enables efficient networking of different players. Accordingly, complex networks of different actors who contribute their specific resources and skills are made possible in the first place.

However, these new constructs of collaborative value creation offer their own challenges (Schaefer et al., 2023). These are supported in part by the increased complexity of the network of diverse actors, which must be aggregated into a suitable collaborative solution (Adner, 2006; Shou, Shi, and Ren, 2022). For example, the interaction of different actors requires the creation of appropriate coordination mechanisms. Also, usage rights in contributed capabilities and resources need to be determined. In addition, companies must also adapt culturally – from a singular view of their own organization to a view of their own role in a network of different actors.

For the organizations, the new constructs thus form the basis for a transformation. It follows that it makes sense for organizations that want to embark on such a transformation path to find out which values can ultimately be generated here. Only a knowledge of the values to be expected enables a strategic consideration of the meaningfulness of such a transformation path.

Both the literature (Davidson, Harmer, and Marshall, 2015; Chamakiotis and Petrakaki, 2022; Vetterling and Baumöl, 2023) as well as evidence from CC Ecosystem participants provide reason to believe that in addition to monetary or direct economic values, there are other values for stakeholders to achieve. However, a concrete classification of these values is not yet available. For organizations, it is necessary to conceptualize which values can be achieved in business ecosystems and which framework conditions shape the accumulation of values (value capture).

A brief overview of the literature search is shown in the following figure. Manuscripts in relevant scientific databases of management sciences and business informatics were examined. The databases were searched using the research parameter “(Value) AND (Business Ecosystem OR Platform Ecosystem OR Innovation Ecosystem)”. The goal was to generate an overview of the current state of the literature on the analysis of value and the accumulation of value. A more detailed analysis of the documents obtained is shown in the following graphic.

Figure 1: Overview of the focus of the publications (Own analysis) It becomes clear that most publications deal with the creation of value and only a few (n=2) are explicitly and exclusively dedicated to the topic of value capture.

To flesh out a further analysis of value, we use the basic concept of any organization: organizations must generate capital. Accordingly, anything that supports the generation of capital can be considered a value. However, capital itself can come in different forms. Watson (2021) provides here an overview of six classes of capital that organizations can generate:

  • Economic capital
  • Human capital
  • Natural capital
  • Organizational capital
  • Social capital
  • Symbolic capital

Watson (2021) also points out that other classes of capital may be present.

If one analyzes the manuscripts from the literature search according to the classes of capital applied there, it becomes apparent that only 19% of the manuscripts consider four or five classes of capital. 97% consider economic capital and 68% deal singularly or additionally with organizational capital. Accordingly, it can be deduced that the literature currently still lacks approaches to the multidimensional consideration of value as a target variable for the actions of organizations in business ecosystems.

Accordingly, the goal of the research project can be derived as follows: Conceptualization of the accumulation of value (value capture) through a framework.

A brief look at the interim results

  • The project identified 7 classes of capital that companies are trying to reach in the context of Business Ecosystems
  • The classes of capital as well as the associated values (specifically resources and capabilities) were mapped within the framework of a scorecard
  • Three influencing factors were defined, which are particularly important for the actors for the accumulation of values and should be included in the framework accordingly
    • Rollers
    • Phase in the life cycle
    • Type of offer from within the business ecosystem

For the practical implementation of the framework, a so-called Ecosystem Value Scorecard was developed, which is already available in an interim version and is already partially applied in companies.

The research project will run until October 2024. Publication of the results will take place within a dissertation at the University of St. Gallen as well as through publication of increments within the framework of conferences and journal articles.


Adner, R. (2006) ‘Match Your Innovation Strategy to Your Innovation Ecosystem.’, Harvard Business Review, 84(4), pp. 98-107. Available at:

Adner, R. (2017) ‘Ecosystem as structure: an actionable construct for strategy’, Journal of Management, 43(1), p. 39. Available at:

Autio, E. and Thomas, L. D. W. (2022) ‘Researching ecosystems in innovation contexts’, Innovation & Management Review, 19(1), pp. 12-25. doi: 10.1108/INMR-08-2021-0151.

Chamakiotis, P. and Petrakaki, D. (2022) ‘Call for Papers: Exploring alternative (non-economic) forms of value engendered by digital platforms’, Information Systems Journal. Available at: SI proposal Chamakiotis & Petrakaki 22SEPT22.pdf.

Dattée, B., Alexy, O. and Autio, E. (2018) ‘Maneuvering in Poor Visibility: How Firms Play the Ecosystem Game when Uncertainty is High.’, Academy of Management Journal, 61(2), pp. 466-498. Available at:

Davidson, S., Harmer, M. and Marshall, A. (2015) ‘Strategies for creating and capturing value in the emerging ecosystem economy’, Strategy and Leadership, 43(2), pp. 2-10. doi: 10.1108/SL-01-2015-0003.

Hannah, D. P. and Eisenhardt, K. M. (2018) ‘How firms navigate cooperation and competition in nascent ecosystems.’, Strategic Management Journal (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ), 39(12), pp. 3163-3192. Available at:

Jacobides, M. G., Cennamo, C. and Gawer, A. (2018) ‘Towards a theory of ecosystems’, Strategic Management Journal, 39(8), pp. 2255-2276. doi: 10.1002/smj.2904.

Moore, J. F. (1993) ‘Predators and prey: a new ecology of competition.’, Harvard Business Review, 71(3), pp. 75-86.

Oesterle, H. and Otto, B. (2010) ‘Consortium Research’, Business & Information Systems Engineering, 2(5), pp. 283-293. doi: 10.1007/s12599-010-0119-3.

Schaefer, B., Vetterling, D., Wrobel, L. and Jung, R. (2023) ‘Where blockchain could help – An analysis of challenges in ecosystems blockchain technology may help to solve’, AMCIS 2023 Proceedings. 24.

Shou, Y., Shi, Y. and Ren, G. J. (2022) ‘Guest editorial: Deconstructing business ecosystems: complementarity, capabilities, co-creation and co-evolution’, Industrial Management and Data Systems, 122(9), pp. 1977-1986. doi: 10.1108/IMDS-09-2022-811.

Vetterling, D. and Baumöl, U. (2023) ‘Controlling of Ecosystems’, Controlling – Zeitrschrift für erfolgsorientiterte Unternehmenssteuerung, 35(2), pp. 57-64. doi:

Watson, R. T. (2021) Capital, systems, and objects. Singapore: Springer Singapore (Management for Professionals). doi: 10.1007/978-981-15-9418-2.

Dennis Vetterling

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