The goal of innovation ecosystems is to constantly introduce new or significantly improve products and services, thereby integrating the exploration of new knowledge and its exploitation for value co-creation. The baseline of the Innovation Ecosystem (IE) concerns the co-creation of innovation, and fosters the creation of growth and interaction to align innovation processes between organizations. This is especially true for the semiconductor industry, which is dominated by (Gordon) Moore’s Law and were the pace of innovation is extreme. Innovation within an ecosystem is becoming increasingly important for firms because of changing environments and high demanding customers. James Moore (1993), the founder of the concept of the business ecosystem, claims that the business ecosystem has four stages: birth, expansion, leadership, and self-renewal, or death, which is defined as the Business Ecosystem Life Cycle (BELC).
This thesis reviews, completes, prioritizes and concretizes the success factors of the IE during the leadership phase of the BELC by a comprehensive literature study and an in-depth case study among top management, business development managers, and knowledge partners of a high tech IE such as ASML. The case study gives insights in the ‘black box’ of the business ecosystem by determining the most critical factors for success. The innovation and growth potential of companies nowadays is determined by both internal and external factors. Access to knowledge, capital, talent and other resources (outside the organization’s boundaries) are of great importance. All parties benefit from a well-functioning ecosystem
The overview of these critical success factors (CSF) assist executives by making decisions regarding the design and execution of their strategies, and will assist executives by nurturing their IE.
First, a list of success factors was extracted from a comprehensive literature review. To come to the list of critical success factors of the IE during the leadership phase, twenty-five semi-structured interviews were conducted to find the missing factors and to detect the irrelevant factors. The success factors from the literature review were compared with the data collected from the interviews, completed, and finally, prioritized.
Almost all success factors, obtained from the literature study were present in the data, however, the list of success factors could be completed by success factors obtained by the interviews. In total eight success factors could be added to the literature study. After further analyzing of the data, eight critical success factors could be identified. The outcome of this study result in the following CSFs:
- Presence of a lead firm
- Resource allocation
- The presence of an ‘ecosystem connector’
- Clear communication and agreements
- Co-creation: Involve suppliers early in product development
These CSFs will increase the health of the ecosystem, which can be assessed by their productivity, its robustness, and the ability to create niches in order for the ecosystem to survive. By understanding the BELC, and the critical success factors during the leadership phase, individual members of an ecosystem can proactively respond to the opportunities that the environment offers and react on developments of fellow members, thereby evolving together to the next (renewal) phase. That this is not an easy task, is shown by the case study. Especially value creation is highly important, but is still a point of discussion between members.
Furthermore, the identification of the CSF, ‘the presence of an ‘ecosystem connector’, relates to a fifth role that can be added to the four roles – keystone player, niche player, dominator, and hub landlord – according the ideas of Iansiti and Levien (2004). This role is crucial during the leadership phase because the ecosystem connecter pro-actively creates new alliances, partner combinations, and thereby stimulates the creation of ideas, innovations and new technologies.