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A platform approach in solution business: How platform openness can be used to control solution networks
2019-11, Wei, Ruiqi, Geiger, Susi, Vize, Róisín
This paper explores how customer solution providers leverage digital platform architectures and particularly platform openness to exert control over complex organizational networks. A multiple case-study approach studies three companies with digital platforms that orchestrate solution networks in the LED and ICT industries. Our findings show that the features of product modules (core or peripheral), service modules (relationship intensity and customization), and knowledge modules (explicit, tacit and codified) have differential influence on the levels of platform openness. By managing platform openness of different subsystems accordingly, the solution providers can achieve different control benefits, including ensuring module quality, increasing offering variety, reducing dependence on module providers, and facilitating resource sharing. We contribute to the literature on solution business by reconceptualising the platform approach from a two-level perspective. We also deepen the field's understanding of the role of digital platforms in solution business from an architectural perspective.
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Boundary resource interactions in solution networks
2022-02-02, Wei, Ruiqi, Vize, Róisín, Geiger, Susi
Purpose: This study aims to explore the interactions between two different and potentially complementary boundary resources in coordinating solution networks in a digital platform context: boundary spanners (those individuals who span interorganizational boundaries) and boundary interfaces (the devices that help coordinate interfirm relationships, e.g. electronic data interchanges, algorithms or chatbots). Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted a multiple case study of three firms using digital platforms to coordinate solution networks in the information communication technology and lighting facility industries. Data were collected from 30 semi-structured interviews, which are complemented by secondary data. Findings: As task complexity increases, smarter digital interfaces are adopted. When the intelligence level of interfaces is low or moderate, they are only used as tools by boundary spanners or to support boundary spanners’ functions. When the intelligence level of interfaces is high or very high, boundary spanners design the interfaces and let them perform tasks autonomously. They are also sometimes employed to complement interfaces’ technological limitations and customers’ limited user ability. Research limitations/implications: The industry contexts of the cases may influence the results. Qualitative case data has limited generalizability. Practical implications: This study offers a practical tool for solution providers to effectively deploy boundary employees and digital technologies to offer diverse customized solutions simultaneously. Originality: This study contributes to the solution business literature by putting forward a framework of boundary resource interactions in coordinating solution networks in a digital platform context. It contributes to the boundary spanning literature by revealing the shifting functions of boundary spanners and boundary interfaces.