Innovation ecosystem: systematic review from a contextual perspective
Wang Weinan 1,3, Wu Xintong1,3, Mei Liang2
1. School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China;
2. National School of Development, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China;
3.Research Center for Technological Innovation, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
Innovation is a complex process of value creation and a decisive force in economic development. A single organization faces many challenges in coping with the complex competitive environment, such as the rapid development of emerging technologies, the deep integration of science, economy and society, etc. Many industries have the characteristics of high innovation uncertainties, multi-agent symbiosis and cross-integration. In addition, China faces serious pressures of economic growth, industrial transformation and technological change. For that, closed, isolated and linear innovation management paradigm has been unable to satisfy the needs of organizational development. The emergence of new technologies (such as digitization, industrial internet, artificial intelligence, 5G technology), the rise of sharing economy, and the change of platform-based organizational models, have further triggered new paradigm in uncertain environment in research and practice. Under this background, "ecosystem" as a new paradigm has gradually attracted the academic and practical attention in the past 20 years, and has become a focal topic in the discussion of strategic management and innovation management.
However, the existing reviews of innovation ecosystems lack attention about emerging technologies, markets, and organizational management contexts, such as digitalization, networking, sharing economy, platform-based organizations, and ignore the interaction of innovation ecosystems with new contexts. Based on systematic review, bibliometric analysis and content analysis, this paper identifies the focus topics, theoretical development, method evolution and research contexts (including technology context, organizational context and market context) emerged from literature clusters. The paper provides a summary and inspiration for the development of innovative ecosystem theory and practice from a situational perspective.
On the contextual perspective of innovation ecosystem, this paper comprehensively adopts systematic review, bibliometrics and citation analysis, content analysis and so on. Systematic review is a literature review research method which collects all the relevant studies, evaluates all the samples strictly one by one, and synthetically evaluates all the research results. Bibliometrics and citation analysis are quantitative methods that use citation networks to effectively identify research topics, hotspots, evolutionary paths and research contents. In addition, this paper also focuses on the contexts, and makes an in-depth content analysis of the literature related to innovation ecosystem.
The findings are as follows: Firstly, the current research on innovation ecosystem has been extended from business ecosystem sub agenda to an independent research topic. As an independent research topic, innovative ecosystem has formed a core research foundation based on Ron Adner’s research and other scholars. It focuses on the concepts and strategies of innovative ecosystem, value creation and value capture, ecosystem structure and competition relationship, etc. Secondly, as an independent research topic, the core three theoretical branches of innovation ecosystem has changed from traditional strategic management, innovation management and new institutional economics to innovation management, marketing management and entrepreneurship management. Moreover, the research methods of innovation ecosystem are still dominated by qualitative research and case study. Thirdly, the research method of innovation ecosystem is still based on qualitative research. Through case studies, most papers describe how enterprises establish innovation ecosystem, realize creation and value acquisition. However, since the research represented by Ron Adner and Raul Kapoor, it has begun to conduct quantitative empirical research, mainly through continuous variables or dichotomous variables to measure complementarities, interdependencies, substitution, competitiveness, system complexity and other indicators in the innovation ecosystem. Fourthly, the literature clusters emerging from citation analysis reflect the important contextual characteristics of innovative ecosystem research, which are highlighted in three aspects: on the supply side, focusing on emerging technology scenarios; on the enterprise side, linking innovation ecosystem with organizational scenarios; and on the demand side, emphasizing on market scenarios. In detail, emerging technological contexts include artificial intelligence, 5G technology, big data, Internet platforms, etc. The emerging organizational contexts includes multi-agent participation, organizational platform and the logic of sharing technology. Emerging market contexts include sharing economy, mobile payment, deep globalization, service dominant logic and service ecosystem.
This paper systematically reviews the literature of innovative ecosystem, constructs the theoretical framework of innovative ecosystem, and summarizes the characteristics of the research development and evolution of innovative ecosystem. Based on the connotation of innovation ecosystem, this paper deconstructs the research contexts of innovation ecosystem (including technological context, organizational context, and market context). The review and summary of innovative ecosystem based on contextual perspective is an exploratory attempt in the field of innovative ecosystem research, which provides important knowledge increments and development enlightenments for the academic and practical of innovative ecosystem. With the deep integration of science and technologies, economy and society, the rapid development of market, organizations and technologies provide new opportunities and theoretical growth points for the future research of innovation ecosystem. Future researches in this field needs to focus on the following aspects. Firstly, focus on the contextual characteristics of innovation ecosystem, and think about the emergence of new technologies, the change of new organizational models, the change of new market trends, and the driving factors behind the change. In addition, to analyze the impact of these changes on the innovation ecosystem composition, structure, complementary and substitutionary relationships of innovation ecosystems. Second, the vertical evolution process and dynamic governance mechanism between micro subjects and macro economy need to be further discussed. Most of the existing researches define the connotation attribute, structural characteristics and organizational paradigm of innovation ecosystem based on the static perspective. The researches need to further integrate the contextual perspective into it, to determine the impact of emerging situations and how the innovation ecosystem needs to adapt to the context characteristics, so as to discuss how to evolve, how to govern and how to regulate. Finally, uncertainties about emerging technologies, organizational models, and market trends have led to a reassessment of the value of the innovation ecosystem at social level. For example, responsibility issues about the emerging technology governance, science and technology ethics, social satisfaction, group well-being, value for all, gender equality and other issues in the process of creating positive externalities. In addition, it also includes the significance of innovation ecosystem for the community with a sharing future, sustainability, world peace and other medium- and long-term human development issues.