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The role of social media in value cocreation and innovation in service ecosystems

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Original languageEnglish
PublisherTampere University
Number of pages126
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-1108-7
ISBN (Print)978-952-03-1107-0
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2019
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


Given the scope, size and speed at which technological innovations and development occur in today’s world, unprecedented impacts on human behaviour and society have emerged. In light of the resultant increasing dynamism and complexity of modern business environments, many solutions are becoming increasingly dependent on their broader institutional alignments and on specific actors. Seeing organisations as dynamic and nested systems with a multiplicity of interrelated components that make the systems self-organised and continuously selfrenewing, elaborating and conceptualising the role of digital technologies has become an endogenous part of knowledge and value creation.

From a business perspective, more holistic knowledge and understanding are needed regarding the impacts of modern social media-based communication and its implications on the explicit, symbolic and social structures of value creation. In fact, considering that the social media platforms are strongly reclaiming their position as active participants in the network formation, it is largely suggested that technology should no longer be limited in its conceptualisation as a content provider or as a context only, but rather as a combination of them both.

In this dissertation, the focus is set to understand the impacts of online social networks on supporting the multi-actor collaboration in innovation – that is, to understand the relationships between the concepts of value cocreation, innovation and ecosystems. Hence, based on the theoretical foundations of service-dominant logic, and by thus referring to ecosystems as the structures for engagement and interaction through joint knowledge creation and exchange, the following two individual, yet interconnected research questions are initiated: 1) ‘How does social media enhance the organisational practices of value cocreation in innovation?’ and 2) ‘How does social media enhance value cocreation and innovation in ecosystems?’.

On the one hand, there is an emerging need to understand the ways how to use social media to enhance value cocreation in real-life settings. Hence, the first research question studies innovation as a firm-centric activity and considers social media as a set of technologies that are used to enhance the development of novel value cocreation practices. On the other hand, by highlighting the importance to understand why social media is so important for innovation, the second research x question shifts the focus to social media as a resource capable of acting on other resources and thus as a critical ‘push’ for value cocreation and innovation in ecosystems. By representing a case example of qualitative research with an interpretivist research approach, this dissertation brings forth a multiplicity of perspectives and meanings related to the studied phenomena.

Finally, five main propositions are produced to summarise the various results of the individual publications. According to these results, social media proves to play a key role in increasing a) the liquification and density of resources available for service exchange and b) the institutional complexity in resource integration. However, the level of understanding value cocreation as a process that extends the context of innovation beyond firm-specific activities is very low, and the development of innovation activities largely depends on the ecosystem actors’ abilities to engage themselves in co-experiencing and co-defining their system-specific values, rules, and value cocreation practices. Major improvements are needed to support the more advanced utilisation of social media in resource exchange and integration. Therefore, a three-level approach to social media is presented as a framework to challenge the deeply rooted, preconceived attitudes and mindsets regarding the role of social media in value cocreation and innovation.

Field of science, Statistics Finland