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Building an organisation for the ecosystem era: Weighing up the Recipe of Haier’s Internet of Food

By Michael Jacobides, Tom Albrighton, Monwei Chou, Lisa Duke, Dalbert Ma, Aryan Mittal


Ecosystems offer a new way to bring multiple firms together in order to deliver new value propositions. By working together, the hub firm and its complementors can create innovative ‘product plus service’ bundles that span traditionally separate industries to offer an experience that simply wasn’t available before. Such experiences can delight customers and give firms a powerful point of differentiation against competitors.

Learning objectives

1. Consider the merits of business ecosystems, where firms move beyond their traditional boundaries to both offer broader and more embedded value propositions encompassing both products and services, working with other actors (firms, organisations and individuals) to do so.

2. Look at how an innovative firm (Haier) radically changed its organisational structure to become more competitive and why it decided to move a step further, to better integrate outside parties, by structuring itself around “Ecosystem Microenterprise Communities”.

3. Consider how firms should change their internal structures to become better participants (be it orchestrators or partners) in (digitally enabled) business ecosystems and look at the trade-offs in the different ways to organise illustrated by the case study.

4. Provide the opportunity to debate the value (to a firm, to workers and to society) of different ways of organising, focusing in particular on non-traditional structures from Haier’s EMCs to gig-economy platforms.

5. Understand how cultural, institutional and business factors in different countries (here, the US and China) drive firms’ choices on how best to organise, and whether a group should pursue a unified or differentiated model of organising.



Publication Date: July 2024
LBS Case Code: CS-22-018
Subjects: , , , , ,
Geography: , ,
Pages: 13
Format: pdf