Change of Roles and Structures in Ecosystems : An Exploratory Case Study
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- Master Thesis 
This thesis investigates the research question: “Why and how do roles and structures in an ecosystem change as it matures?” The methodological approach chosen to answer this research question is an explorative single case study of the establishment of an ecosystem in the healthcare sector. The main data source consists of semi-structured interviews with six informants from five different companies who are currently involved in the project or will be involved in the future. The existing literature on ecosystems, the ecosystem lifecycle, roles and structures within ecosystems, and coevolution has been reviewed and used to create a theoretical foundation that was used to discuss the findings of this study. However, while existing research shows that roles and structures within ecosystems change over time, the research field is still novel when it comes to how the roles and structures change and what causes these changes. Therefore, this phenomenon is an interesting subject of analysis. The findings reveal that the changes in roles and structures in ecosystems over time can originate from external competition, public regulations, internal competition, and changes in the required competences. Through these sources of change roles can either change, become redundant, or entirely new roles can emerge. The structures within ecosystems can alter regarding substitutability, centrality, and decision-making, which can all represent sources of power within the ecosystem. Additionally, trust is found to play an important role in the relationships between the members of the ecosystem, but also as a source of power and competitive advantage. Lastly, uncertainty is found to be a relevant factor that affects the identified sources of change. The findings are significant in that they can help companies involved in an ecosystem to better understand why and how roles and structures change, which in turn can help them to better foresee and maneuverer through these changes and to achieve their desired role or structure. Moreover, the findings can contribute to decision-making that improves the overall probability of an ecosystem’s success.