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The term ecosystem is regularly bandied about in business conversations. But what does it mean and is it a useful metaphor for improving business performance?

Overview 

This guide explores the concept of business ecosystems in some depth and then concludes with five actions that will help you make the most of ecosystems thinking. 

A business ecosystem is a rich network of connected organisations where value flows through the system in multiple ways. Understanding your ecosystem, where you fit in and how you can make the most of it, can help you develop your strategy, business model and operational plan. This is not just for tech firms or platform businesses but for any business that needs to deal with complex relationships that go beyond simple supply chains and direct customer sales.

The guide was prepared by Chris Ford, academic, writer and entrepreneur. He is a Chartered Accountant, who set up his own adventure travel business before selling it and becoming a lecturer in Accounting and Management at Lancaster University. Chris is a Cabinet Office Policy Fellow, Academic Advisor to the Institute for Outdoor Learning and Academic board member of ICAEW’s Business and Management Faculty. His research into the performance of platforms, ecosystems and open innovation led to a prestigious prize for Best Innovation Paper from the British Academy of Management in 2018.

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Business Ecosystems: A Guide

Business and Management faculty members can download this guide in full.

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