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The dynamics of digital platform innovation: unfolding the paradox of control and generativity in Apple's iOS

Eaton, Benjamin David (2012) The dynamics of digital platform innovation: unfolding the paradox of control and generativity in Apple's iOS. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Mobile digital platforms provide an architectural basis for third party innovation of platform complements. Platform owners have property rights, enabling them to establish a boundary of permissible innovation demarcating the permitted from the prohibited. This allows for the curation of complements, which provides a means of controlling for value creation. Consequently, platform innovationthe innovation of platform complements is occasionally refused by platform owners. When this occurs tensions may arise between the two parties over where the boundary of permissible innovation should lie. Tussles may break out, embodied in complex interactions, as each party attempts to get its way. Eventually an outcome is achieved, and a platform innovation is either allowed or prohibited. A body of platform innovation literature is emerging from fields including information systems. Whilst this literature considers many aspects of platform innovation, the dynamics concerning the control of the innovation of platform innovation complements is overlooked. This research attempts to address that gap. Its relevance to information systems concerns the digitalisation of platforms as systemsdigital infrastructures, which affects their capacity for innovation and regulation. This research uses the method of narrative networks to analyse 45 examples of contested platform innovation. This approach, informed by empirical data sourced from over 4500 blog entries, identifies patterned sequences of actions across the examples. These sequences describe how tension builds, how control is asserted, and how control is then resisted. A theory of formal managerial control is used to explain how mechanisms of control are applied by platform owners as well as how developers respond to control. The principle contribution of this research is to theory. It develops and presents a theory to describe and explain the dynamics of contested innovation of complements on curated digital platforms. In doing so, iIt challenges the understanding that the platform owner alone controls platform design rules and concerning which platform complements are allowed, and which are notthe boundary of permissible innovation. Furthermore, tThe study indicates opens up the possibility that the forces of digitalisation provide third parties with the power to affect influence platform architecture, but at the cost of additional means of being controlled.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Ben Eaton
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Sets: Departments > Information Systems and Innovation Group
Departments > Management
Supervisor: Kallinikos, Jannis and Sørensen, Carsten

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