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Moving from Value Chains to Ecosystems: Building and Leveraging Partnering Strength

MIT CISR 2018 research findings showed that companies with higher growth had larger ecosystems and greater partnering strength. Partnering strength builds on a company’s distinctiveness and requires transformations in its ecosystem readiness, digital capabilities, and organizational capabilities to API-enable and share crown jewels. We identified three partnering models for the digital economy—bespoke partnering, digital connecting, and digital partnering, which have increasing partnering strength and impact on growth.

In 2019, we will conduct a survey and in-depth case studies on how to build and leverage partnering strength. Our research questions include:

  • How do companies build partnering strength to move from value chain to ecosystem business models (omni-channel to ecosystem driver, supplier to modular producer)?
  • What are good examples of digital partnering models across industries and across the globe?
  • What critical capabilities are needed for successful digital partnering, and how do companies build them and measure progress?
  • What is the role of the board and the executive committee in successful digital partnering?

Seeking: Interviews at companies that develop partnering models such as digital marketplaces, and at companies that are moving from a value chain business model to an ecosystem business model.

Research team: Ina Sebastian (lead), Stephanie Woerner, Peter Weill

Contact: Ina Sebastian (