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Ecosystem: A Zombie Category?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2019 IEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Innovation (ICE/ITMC)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-3401-7
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2019
Publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventIEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Innovation: Co-creating our Future: Scaling-up Innovation Capacities through the Design and Engineering of Immersive, Collaborative, Empathic and Cognitive Systems - Sophia Antipolis, France
Duration: 17 Jun 201919 Jun 2019
Conference number: 25


ConferenceIEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Innovation
Abbreviated titleICE/ITMC 2019
CitySophia Antipolis
Internet address


What do you imagine in your mind when hearing the term ‘business ecosystem’? Is the image the same as your colleague’s vision or how it was used in the latest ecosystem paper you have read? In this paper, Ulrich Beck’s theory of a zombie category is used as an instrument to raise the question whether the general concept of an ‘ecosystem’ is already a zombie category term—a term which has already dead and empty in content, while still being alive and used. ‘Business ecosystem’ and its derivatives such as the ‘software ecosystem’ are terms which do have a proper description; however, due to the widely use in different context, the terms might already be losing their original meaning.This paper reviews 20 highly-cited non-ecological ecosystem papers published after 2010. The papers represent the disciplines of engineering, social science and computer science. Five different usage cases are observed: (i) Sustainable use, (ii) Use as a synonym, (iii) Conflicting use, (iv) Use as a colloquial term, and (v) No actual use. The results implicate that term ‘ecosystem’ might be under a zombie categorization process. Its implications and countermeasures are discussed in the paper.

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland