Disruptive change and the reconfiguration of innovation ecosystems

Ozgur Dedehayir, Roland Ortt, Marko Seppänen


This conceptual paper extends the traditional view of disruptive change, which considers the effects of rivalry between an incumbent and new entrant firm, by examining the impact of disruption upon the ‘innovation ecosystem’ in its entirety – the group of organisations that collaborate in creating a holistic value proposition for the end-user. Following Adner’s “ecosystem-as-structure” perspective, we develop propositions that anticipate structural differences between incumbent and disruptive innovation ecosystems, and then review these propositions in the context of three historical, disruptive innovation cases; Bakelite (a synthetic plastic), microwave oven, and photocopier. Through these cases, we illustrate that the manner of innovation ecosystem reconfiguration is likely to depend on the design attributes of the product, as well as the type of disruption experienced. We conclude by reflecting upon contemporary cases of disruption enabled through digital technologies, and proposing a framework that can guide future research.


innovation ecosystem; ecosystem as structure; disruptive change; value blueprint; bakelite; microwave oven; photocopier

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-27242017000300002

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