The evolution of (inter-organizational) projects to (micro-) ecosystem : an ecosystem emergence
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- Master Thesis 
This thesis is an exploratory case study on how projects evolve to ecosystems. The research study is demonstrated by two empirical cases provided by Telenor in a context of smart city; namely water infrastructure and air quality projects. In order for the inductive observations to be analysed and discussed, existing theories on the ecosystem concept are critically reviewed and employed to construct a temporary working definition, as well as ecosystem emergence and inter-organizational theories are presented. Project managers and senior managers within the projects are targeted as interview samples as they can provide valuable information. Firstly, the two study cases are analysed according to the working definition and the absence of interdependency and loosely coupled relationship characteristic is identified. We then discovered the two important elements, trust and relationship, in the project setting, which also have implications on the project transformation to ecosystem. We argued that personal trust is strongly presented in the current inter-organizational project setting. However, it is necessary for this personal trust to evolve into impersonal, or system trust for a project to expand, and eventually reach a critical number of participants. The second element we would like to highlight is relationships. We found that the existing relationship serves as the foundation of the project emergence. In this thesis, relationships are also discussed in respect to interactions among project participants. We argued that the interactions are influenced by the resources each actor brings into the project. This also implies the interdependency displayed in the project. It can be observed that, in the setting where asymmetric dependency is presented, the player, who is least dependent on other players, may take a keystone position in the project. However, it can also be the case that the keystone position is assigned to an actor, who possesses the relationship, which is also a valuable resource. In addition, we also touched upon the possible tensions that may cause the negative outcomes in this relationship setting if it is not well managed.