Student Theses and Projects: Building an Own Platform or Joining an Existing Platform Ecosystem: Insights from a Multiple Case Study


Thesis (MA/DA), Reference-number 2019-185

Advisor(s): Sebastian Hermes



Previous research has demonstrated that ecosystem-thinking is becoming more and more important for decision makers due to business relationships evolving from bidirectional to multidirectional, from centralized to decentralized, and from closed to open. Hence, firms are confronted with increasingly complex and interconnected business environments. Moreover, firms are not isolated and do not create value in a linear manner anymore. In contrast, value nowadays is co-created and co-delivered by various actors within an ecosystem e.g. in two-sided markets or in digital platform ecosystems. The emergence of the “platform economy” leads to novel phenomena, which requires research to dive into the disruptive impact of digital platforms on traditional firms and their business models (Parker et al., 2016). The aim of this thesis is therefore to better understand how traditional firms strategize in an emerging platform environment and how they decide and evaluate whether to build an own platform or joining an existing platform ecosystem. To do so, multiple cases of traditional companies are analyzed with a focus on the benefits, risks and challenges for the respective decision, adoption/building strategies, and the expected impact on the organization and its business model.



  • Identify companies that are in the state of deciding whether they develop an own platform or if they should join an existing platform ecosystem.
  • Identify data sources to analyze the role digital platforms play in the respective companies. Data sources may cover interviews and other available data.
  • Analyze the collected data and identify benefits, risks and challenges for the respective decision, adoption/building strategies, and the expected impact on the organization and its business model.



  • High degree of autonomy and individual responsibility
  • Interest and experience in qualitative research
  • Very good grades and a good command of English language are beneficial



Constantinides, P., Henfridsson, O., & Parker, G. G. (2018). Introduction—Platforms and infrastructures in the digital age.

Schreieck, Maximilian; Wiesche, Manuel: How Established Companies Leverage IT Platforms for Value Co-Creation – Insights from Banking. Twenty-Fifth European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), 2017, Guimarães, Portugal

de Reuver, M., et al. (2017). "The digital platform: a research agenda." Journal of Information Technology 33(2): 124-135.

Yin, Robert K. Case study research and applications: Design and methods. Sage publications, 2017.

Eisenhardt, K. M. and M. E. Graebner (2007). "Theory Building from Cases: Opportunities and Challenges." The Academy of Management Journal 50(1): 25-32.


Further Information

The topic can be adopted according to your interests. The thesis can be written in English or German. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Please send your application including our application form, "Notenauszug" from TUMonline, and CV to Please note that we can only consider applications with complete documents.