Chapter 11: Platforms for the Design of Platforms: Collaborating in the Unknown
Pascal Le Masson, Benoit Weil and Armand Hatchuel 1. INTRODUCTION This chapter explores how industry platforms can be designed using specific collaborative relationships that also take the form of platforms. In several sectors, the architecture of industry is tending to loosen or even disappear: ‘smart grids’ in electricity supply, biomaterials and home networking in telecommunications and consumer electronics are all examples of new industrial contexts in search of industry platforms. In such situations, who is the industrial architect? Who provides the industry platform? How do platforms emerge and how do companies contribute to the process? What are the different forms of collaboration for designing industry platforms? Are there different contexts? Can we specify the circumstances under which it will not be one entrepreneur, or a series of individual entrepreneurs, but rather a coalition of entrepreneurs, who will attempt to create a platform? Despite its importance, surprisingly little research has been done on platform design and the collaborative relationships involved. Industry platforms, particularly in high-tech industries, have attracted considerable attention since they induce seemingly anomalous strategic behaviour, competitive positions or pricing policies. Successful platform strategies have been identified in a number of diversified situations: PC architectures (Intel), operating systems (Microsoft), computer games (Sony, Nintendo), Internet browsers (MS Explorer), Internet search (Google) etc. Issues regarding platform leadership management and platform wannabe strategies are today widely understood, thanks to empirical studies and theoretical models. The works on the subject underline the importance of platform design in successful platform leadership but have not really...
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