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Product to Platform Transitions: Organizational Identity Implications

Author

Listed:
  • Elizabeth J. Altman

    (Harvard Business School)

  • Mary Tripsas

    (Boston College)

Abstract

Organizations are increasingly recognizing that value they once derived from offering standalone products can be significantly enhanced if they transition to platform-based businesses that harness the innovative capabilities of complementors. While the competitive dynamics of platform-based businesses have been studied extensively in the economics and strategy literatures, the organizational implications of shifting from a product to a platform-based business model remain relatively unexplored. We propose that such a shift is not simply an operational change, but may challenge the core of how an organization views itself, calling into question organizational identity. Organizations that have historically defined themselves as creative and innovative may have trouble accepting a platform-based context where outsiders engage in much of the creative activity. Organizational identity can also influence whether and how organizations become platform-based. To succeed, we propose that organizations must question elements of their existing identity and actively modify it to become consistent with their new business approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth J. Altman & Mary Tripsas, 2013. "Product to Platform Transitions: Organizational Identity Implications," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-045, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:14-045
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Clayton M. Christensen & Rory McDonald & Elizabeth J. Altman & Jonathan E. Palmer, 2018. "Disruptive Innovation: An Intellectual History and Directions for Future Research," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(7), pages 1043-1078, November.
    3. Reinhard Prügl & Dinah Isabel Spitzley, 2021. "Responding to Digital Transformation by External Corporate Venturing: An Enterprising Family Identity and Communication Patterns Perspective," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 135-164, January.
    4. Nadine Kammerlander & Andreas König & Melanie Richards, 2018. "Why Do Incumbents Respond Heterogeneously to Disruptive Innovations? The Interplay of Domain Identity and Role Identity," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(7), pages 1122-1165, November.
    5. Wu Zhao & AnQi Wang & Yun Chen, 2019. "How to Maintain the Sustainable Development of a Business Platform: A Case Study of Pinduoduo Social Commerce Platform in China," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(22), pages 1-26, November.
    6. Jiao Luo & Andrew H. Van de Ven & Runtian Jing & Yuan Jiang, 2018. "Transitioning from a hierarchical product organization to an open platform organization: a Chinese case study," Journal of Organization Design, Springer;Organizational Design Community, vol. 7(1), pages 1-14, December.

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