Corporate Strategies of Digital Organizations
This dissertation examines the implications of digitization for firm corporate strategy and organizational governance. I aim to link together emerging research on platform businesses and classic corporate strategy research on firm scale, scope and organization, two important streams of work that have remained largely independent despite the close connection between them. To do so, my dissertation revolves around the following central question: How can platform owners leverage governance mechanisms to alleviate market frictions, and what are the performance outcomes?
In the first chapter, using game-theoretic formal models, I analyze how long standing information frictions are alleviated by digital platforms through developing capabilities for solving these information problems and exploiting synergies between those capabilities. In the second chapter, using data from online peer-to-peer lending, I show that platform owners can mitigate problems of information asymmetry in platform markets and enhance market effectiveness through allocation of key decision rights among participants. Finally, in the third chapter, using data from mobile apps, I show that platform gatekeeping serves as a screening mechanism for platform owners and how it can shape the different ways app developers profit from innovation.
Collectively, my dissertation aims to advance corporate strategy research in two ways. First, my research broadens the application of theories of organizational governance core to corporate strategy to a new organizational form – platforms – and I show that core tenets of the theories still apply, although the specific empirical mechanisms might take a different form in the platform context (e.g., decision rights allocated between the platform owner and complementors, rather than between the corporate office and business units). Second, my research stands to expand existing theories in corporate strategy through a sharp focus on organization and governance features that are unique to platforms – such as by studying the orchestrating role of the platform owner (e.g., through gatekeeping, platform owner can control complementors' platform access and shape their value-creation activities on the platform), and the multi-layer relationships prevalent in platforms (e.g., relationships between the platform owner and complementors, between complementors on the same side, and between complementors across two or more sides).