More and more entrepreneurs and managers around the world agree with the idea that to remain competitive in the modern world, it is necessary to reinvent your business, going beyond its traditional definitions. "Business ecosystem" is a short phrase used to denote this concept, usually accompanied by the word "digital". What is the essence of the ecosystem approach to business strategy? How does it differ from the traditional strategic paradigms? What benefits does it bring and what difficulties are associated with its implementation? And most importantly — what is the necessary business transformation program that allows for effective work within the ecosystem? Within this report, we set ourselves the goal of analyzing a broad scope of academic and applied research and building a structured, versatile understanding of the phenomenon of business ecosystems, as well as formulating practical ideas for applying this understanding in business. 

Appearing in literature in the early 1990s, the notion of business ecosystem was at first more of a theoretical metaphor than a guide to action. Its transformation into a full-fledged, stand-alone business strategy coincided with the rapid rise of digital platforms — such as Amazon, Alibaba and Uber — which offered a new vision of the models for the joint creation of market value by independent players. This report examines two types of ecosystems — solution ecosystems and transaction ecosystems (conditionally correlated with the approaches of incumbents and new, digitally native enterprises) — and analyzes the trajectories of their development and the necessary technological enablers that allow for new strategic opportunities. 

The business ecosystem concept is rapidly developing before us. Therefore, it is likely that many of its features and limitations have not yet been tested in practice. In order to properly reflect this emergence, it is necessary to describe it in depth from the point of view of theory and, at the same time, in a way that would be consistent with the observed market reality. Within this study, the proposed conceptual framework is tested on a number of successful and unsuccessful cases of creating ecosystems of both types. They are taken from various industries and countries; the framework also takes into account opinions of Russian business practitioners. 


  • Institute for Emerging Market Studies


    • Vladimir Korovkin

    • Maxim Belousko

    • Naala Oleynikova

    • Polina Sintyurikhina

    • Alina Fateeva

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