A multi-level perspective on innovation ecosystems for path-breaking innovation

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Path-breaking innovations are increasingly developed and commercialized by networks of co-creating actors, called innovation ecosystems. Previous work in this area demonstrates that the ‘internal’ alignment of actors is critical to value creation in the innovation ecosystem. However, the literature has largely overlooked that the success of an innovation ecosystem also depends on its ‘external’ viability, determined by the broader socio-technical environment. That is, path-breaking innovations inherently challenge the prevailing socio-technical regime in a domain (e.g., established rules, artifacts and habits) that tends to be resistant to change. Overcoming this resistance is a major challenge for ventures pioneering path-breaking innovations. The paper contributes to the literature on innovation ecosystems by explicitly considering the socio-technical viability of the innovation ecosystem around a path-breaking innovation. In particular, we theorize about the objects of manipulation in an innovation ecosystem and discuss the strategies that a focal venture, orchestrating the innovation ecosystem, can employ in manipulating these objects so as to increase the socio-technical viability of the ecosystem. We arrive at a multi-level perspective on innovation ecosystem development that integrates internal alignment and external viability and informs a research agenda for future studies in this field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-113
Number of pages11
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date28 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Multi-level perspective
  • transition studies
  • path-breaking innovation
  • Socio-technical analytics
  • Innovation
  • innovation ecosystem
  • Objects of manipulation
  • Path-breaking innovation
  • Strategic niche management
  • Innovation ecosystem
  • Ecosystem strategy


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