An integrative framework is proposed to advance management research on technological platforms, bridging two theoretical perspectives: economics, which sees platforms as double-sided markets, and engineering design, which sees platforms as technological architectures. While the economic perspective informs our understanding of platform competition, the engineering design perspective informs our view of platform innovation. The article argues that platforms can be usefully conceptualized as evolving organizations or meta-organizations that: (1) federate and coordinate constitutive agents who can innovate and compete; (2) create value by generating and harnessing economies of scope in supply or/and in demand; and (3) entail a modular technological architecture composed of a core and a periphery. In support of this conceptualization, a classification system is presented, indicating that technological platforms appear in a variety of organizational forms: within firms, across supply chains, and across industry innovation ecosystems. As an illustration, the framework is then applied to derive a simple model highlighting patterns of interaction between platform innovation and competition, yielding hypotheses that could be tested empirically by future scholars.
Article first published in “Research Policy”, V. 43 (2014), n. 7, pp. 1239-1249 as open access article funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 Unported (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).