A review of the ecosystem concept — Towards coherent ecosystem design

Masaharu Tsujimoto, Yuya Kajikawa, Junichi Tomita, Yoichi Matsumoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

296 Citations (Scopus)


The ecosystem concept is of increasing significance in the field of the management of technology and innovation. This paper provides an overview of 90 previous studies using the ecosystem concept in this field, all published in leading academic journals, and clarifies their four major research streams. The first stream is the industrial ecology perspective, which is based on the concept of industrial ecosystems. The second is the business ecosystem perspective. This approach is based on the theory of organizational boundaries. Within the business ecosystem perspective, some influential scholars emphasize platform management, which represents the third approach. The fourth approach is the multi-actor network perspective, which contributes dynamic behavioral relationship analyses based on social network theory. This perspective expands the range of analysis to include a variety of actors in addition to private companies. As a result of the review, this study presents an integrated model of the existing literature. Furthermore, this paper proposes original definitions of the ecosystem and the concept of a coherent ecosystem. This coherency is the core concept underlying the explanation of the dynamic evolution or extinction of the ecosystem. Finally, this paper discusses the significance of the ecosystem concept and indicates topics for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov
Externally publishedYes


  • Business ecosystem
  • Coherent ecosystem
  • Ecosystem
  • Multi-level perspective
  • Platform management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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