The Dynamics of Trust and Control in Innovation Ecosystems

Dieudonnee Cobben, Nadine Roijakkers


Within the innovation ecosystem literature, scholars have considered governance mechanisms as an important instrument for focal entities to mitigate the risks of opportunistic behaviour. Scholars have not focused yet on how these mechanisms work. In the alliance literature, governance mechanisms have been extensively researched and described. As innovation ecosystems are a subset of alliances, constructs from the alliance literature are used to understand how governance mechanisms are employed by the focal entity within innovation ecosystems. Scholars have also considered the importance of partner alignment for successful innovations. To mitigate the risks of opportunistic behaviour and to align partners, this research has focused on understanding how the focal entity uses governance mechanisms to influence partner alignment. Based on an exploratory multiple case study research, this research has found a list of partner stimulators, like for example leadership and expectation management, that influence the effectiveness of governance mechanisms used by focal entities in aligning partners. When partner alignment stimulators are present, the effectiveness of governance mechanisms is enhanced and partners feel more aligned. We have also developed a model that explains the relation between partner alignment stimulators, governance mechanisms, and partner alignment. In addition, we have found that constructs from the alliance literature can be applied to an innovation ecosystem setting when partner alignment stimulators are considered in addition to governance mechanisms.  We contribute to the innovation ecosystem literature by explicitly considering partner alignment stimulators that influence the relation between governance mechanisms and partner alignment. Future research could focus on using quantitative methods to strengthen the findings of this research.


Innovation Ecosystem; Governance Mechanisms; Focal Entity; Alliances; Output Control; Social Control; Behavioural Control; Competence Trust; Goodwill Trust; Partner Alignment; Alliance Management Capabilities

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