Junior Management Science, Volume 2, Issue 3, December 2017

Analyzing Dynamic Capabilities in the Context of Cloud Platform Ecosystems – A Case Study Approach

Kevin Rudolph, Technische Universität Berlin (Masterarbeit)

Dynamic capabilities (DCs) refer to a firm’s abilities to continuously adapt its resource base in order to respond to changes in its external environment. The capability to change dynamically is crucial in business ecosystems that are composed of a variety of actors.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the leader in the cloud platform industry, is a promising cloud platform provider (CPP) to show a high degree of dynamic capability fulfillment within its highly fluctuating ecosystem. To date, the full scope of dynamic capabilities in cloud platform ecosystems (CPEs) has not been fully understood. Previous work has failed to deliver a combined perspective of explicit dynamic capabilities in cloud platform ecosystems applied on an in-depth practical case. With our mixed-method case study on the AWS ecosystem we deliver a thorough understanding of its sensing, seizing and transforming capabilities. We generate a set of strategy management frameworks that support our expectations, lead to unexpected insights and answer the questions of what, how, why and with whom AWS uses DCs. In detail, we provide an understanding about DC chronological change, DC network patterns and DC logical explanations. Our research is based on a self-compiled case study database containing 16k+ secondary data pages from interviews, blogs, announcements, case studies, job vacancies, etc. that we analyze qualitatively and quantitatively. We find out that AWS develops and holds a large set of interacting dynamic capabilities incorporating a variety of ecosystem actors in order to sustain tremendous customer value and satisfaction.

The thesis infers significant theoretical and practical implications for all CPE actors, like partners, customers, investors and researchers in the field of IT strategy management. Managers of all CPE actors are encouraged to critically evaluate their own maturity level and complement a CPP’s DC explications in order to boost business by implementing sensing, seizing, transforming and innovating capabilities.

Keywords: Dynamic Capabilities, Cloud Platform Ecosystems, Innovation Capabilities, Mixed-Methods Case Study, Amazon Web Services