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In business ecosystems, the platform leader takes on a role of overcoming main technological challenges and creating an innovative business model for the members of the ecosystem. Although the role of the platform leader and concepts of ecosystem have been developed by several authors, it still lacks a precise theoretical support to understand what enables the platform leader to obtain and maintain hegemony in the ecosystem. In this study, we develop a theoretical explanation to understand the fundamental strategic intentions of the platform leader based on the perspectives of resource dependence theory (RDT). Previous studies have greatly focused on technological leadership and sponsorship of the platform leader as a benevolent leader. However, we propose that the power of the platform leader depends on the degree of dependence of other agents in the ecosystem on platform leaders. We provide support for our proposition with examples observed in the U.S. IT industry where multiple platform leaders exist and manage different types of platform leadership. Our study provides an explanation to understand essential issues that the platform leader faces. Also, we synthesize the explanation with respect to the role of platform leader in the business ecosystem.
Date of Conference: July 29 2012-Aug. 2 2012