There is a growing interest in innovation ecosystems. Embedding innovation processes in ecosystems comes with several opportunities and managerial challenges. This paper's aim is to increase our understanding of the strategies that industrial firm managers use to deal with innovation ecosystems. How do they align partners and activities while securing and developing their role in the ecosystem? Drawing on 98 interviews with CEOs, CTOs and innovation managers in Germany and the Netherlands, we identify two layers in innovation ecosystems: an explorative layer, which is open and aimed at identifying opportunities for innovation, and an exploitative layer, which is semi-closed and aimed at enacting these opportunities to create new value propositions for customers. We analyse how companies act upon these two layers productively, particularly in relation to alignment and strategic positioning; how they create synergies between the different layers; and how they cope with the existing tensions. Furthermore, we discuss differences in strategic choices regarding ecosystem strategies, and propose a maturity model for the development of innovation ecosystem strategies.
- industrial firms
- innovation ecosystem strategies
- innovation ecosystems
- multilayered systems
- exploration and exploitation