DFG-Project OpenEco
Input Control and its Implications for Platform Ecosystems

The aim of the research project OpenEco is to investigate input control mechanisms in platform ecosystems (i.e., complementary products approval procedures and guidelines) that are widely used in practice but largely discounted in research.

Previous studies have focused primarily on traditional control mechanisms (such as output or process control) in traditional control settings (e.g., IT outsourcing / offshoring) and have treated input control only implicitly. For these reasons, there is a clear need to explore the essentials and influences of input control mechanisms in software ecosystems, a context that is becoming increasingly important for handling a variety of transactions in multi-page electronic markets.

OpenEco aims to develop a rich conceptualization and formative input control tool based on solid theoretical foundations and empirical testing. It is also planned to validate the input control concept through questionnaire research in two different platform ecosystems (i.e., mobile app and crowdfunding platforms). In both ecosystems, complementors (i.e., app developers and crowdfunding campaign creators) should each be interviewed about platforms that have different levels of input control (e.g., Apple iOS vs. Google Android). This allows the comparison of the effects of different input control intensities on attitudes and behavioral intentions of general partners. Finally, using a natural experiment in crowdfunding context, the longer-term implications of a softening of input control will also be explored. The aim is to highlight a change in the input control policy to Kickstarter, replacing previously stringent testing procedures with a more lax control approach. Based on a time-series dataset that includes approximately 130,000 completed crowdfunding campaigns over a two-year period (one year before and after the policy change), longer-term impacts on complementors, users and the entire software ecosystem will be captured.

Using OpenEco, we want to contribute to the control theory in the Information Systems literature by theoretically further developing input control as a construct and validating it as a formal control mechanism for designing the platform operator-complementor relationship. Furthermore, we want to contribute to the relatively recent platform research by showing that changes in the regulation of input control can unbalance a whole ecosystem. Our project is also intended to provide overarching insights into broader research topics such as the openness and sustainability of digital ecosystems.

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Project duration: May 2017 – December 2020

Funder: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)