Call for Papers

CfP special issue on "Standardization for platform ecosystems"

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Guest Editors


In the coming years, various technological developments such as cloud computing, internet of things, big data, and artificial intelligence are expected to further drive the digital transformation of economies and societies. Because IT makes its appearance in various sectors, we see a trend towards increased interconnectivity within and between sectors. As a result, the boundaries between sectors are becoming increasingly blurred. The technological developments will result in platform ecosystems that consist of connected but previously unrelated stakeholders from different backgrounds (e.g. in terms of type (public/private), industry background) (Kenney and Zysman 2016) and complex systems that consist of established subsystems that originate from different sectors (van de Kaa et al. 2015). These can refer to digital infrastructures such as a smart grid (including ICT and energy sector subsystems), or the cloud.

The notion of ecosystems has become increasingly popular to describe a certain type of environment as shown by an increasing number of studies published on the topic during the last five years (Bogers et al. 2019). Research on ecosystems has converged towards a shared understanding of what a platform-based ecosystem (Hein et al. 2020)  is – with authors highlighting aspects such as ‘joint value creation (Bogers et al. 2019), supermodular complementarity (Jacobides et al. 2018) or ‘alignment structure of the multilateral set of partners’ (Adner 2017). This special issue calls for research that addresses the role of standardization in the success of these platform ecosystems so that ultimately we can come closer to realizing the digital transformation of economies and societies.

Central issues and topics

A standard is an established norm, rule or approach that can describe the characteristics of a technology, it’s mode of operation, and its performance. Standardization is the process for the development, adoption and control of such standards based around the consensus of firms, users, interest groups and governments (Xie et al. 2016). Sometimes, firms choose to directly compete with other firms for a standard and engage in a de-facto standardization process. One important aspect that determines the success of platform ecosystems is that dominant designs and generally accepted common standards should be developed and used by firms and society so that, e.g., the technological components of the systems can be connected and quality and safety requirements can be guaranteed (Viardot. 2017). A famous example of a dominant design and resulting platform ecosystem is the video recorder and videos that could be rented at video shops. The selection of the VHS standard was essential in creating that ecosystem (Cusumano et al. 1992). However, nowadays, with the increasing convergence of industries, it is challenging for companies from different industries to cooperate on standards in committees and companies do not seek out competition either as they are afraid of cannibalizing their own market. This results, for example, in a stalemate when it comes to standardization of various systems as companies from different industries do not want to coordinate their developments through standardization and as a result a system will not emerge.

As more actors and technologies get interconnected, the uncertainty with regard to the choice to select a standard will increase for every party. At one point it may be too difficult to explain the outcome in terms of which standard will become selected. It may be the case that, at that time, standardization for platform ecosystems appears to be determined by random events. Against the backdrop of these issues, this special issue is concerned with the following topics (in relation to platform ecosystems):

  • Standardization and digitalization
  • The impact of standardization
  • Standardization strategies 
  • Standardization through consortia and/or strategic alliances 
  • Committee-based standardization         
  • Market-based standardization
  • Standard selection
  • Standards and dominant designs
  • Standards battles and platform wars

Papers on other standardization topics in relation to platform ecosystems will also be considered.


standardization, standards, dominant designs, platforms, ecosystems, digitalization


Electronic Markets is a Social Science Citation Index (SSCI)-listed journal (IF 2.981 in 2019) in the area of information systems. We encourage original contributions with a broad range of methodological approaches, including conceptual, qualitative and quantitative research. Please also consider position papers and case studies for this special issue. All papers should fit the journal scope (for more information, see and will undergo a double-blind peer-review process. Submissions must be made via the journal’s submission system and comply with the journal's formatting standards. The preferred average article length is approximately 8,000 words, excluding references. If you would like to discuss any aspect of this special issue, you may either contact the guest editors or the Editorial Office.


Adner, R. (2017). Ecosystem as Structure: An Actionable Construct for Strategy. Journal of Management 43(1), 39–58.

Bogers, M., Sims, J., & West, J. (2019). What Is an Ecosystem? Incorporating 25 Years of Ecosystem Research. Academy of Management Proceedings, 1(11080).

Cusumano, M. A., Mylonadis, Y., &. Rosenbloom, R. S. (1992). Strategic maneuvering and mass-market dynamics: the triumph of VHS over Beta. Business History Review 66(1), 51-94.

Hein, A., Schreieck, M., Riasanow, T., Soto Setzke, D., Wiesche, M., Böhm, M., & Krcmar, H. (2020). Digital platform ecosystems. Electronic Markets 30(1), 87–98.

Jacobides, M. G., Cennamo, C., & Gawer, A. (2018). Towards a theory of ecosystems. Strategic Management Journal 39(8), 2255–2276.

Kenney, M., & Zysman, J. (2016). The rise of the platform economy. Issues Sci. Technol. 32.

Van de Kaa, G., Van den Ende, J., De Vries, H.J. (2015). Strategies in network industries: the importance of inter-organisational networks, complementary goods, and commitment. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 27, 73-86.

Viardot, E. (2017). Trust and standardization in the adoption of innovation. IEEE Communication Magazine 1(1): 31-35

Xie, Z., Hall, J., McCarthy, I., Skitmore, M., & Shen, L. (2016). Standardization efforts: The relationship between knowledge dimensions, search processes and innovation outcomes. Technovation 48-49, 69-78.