An investigation into how strategic alignment is achieved in an innovation ecosystem : a case study of the Fintech ecosystem in Scotland

  • Akwal Sunner

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Research on strategy process has been well documented over the last four decades, however, there are limited insights in strategy management literature on how the strategy process in ecosystems contributes to the alignment of ecosystem participants around a focal value proposition. The application of strategic management in innovation ecosystems can be understood to pose significant challenges to the traditional take on strategy as a vehicle for competitive advantage. It is argued in the existing research that there is a need to understand how ecosystem strategy is formulated and executed. This research suggests a process and activity-based approach to investigate the practice of strategic management in innovation ecosystems in order to tackle this challenge. This exploratory study, based on three comprehensive case studies, investigates the strategy-making process of the Scottish fintech ecosystem through an exploration of the key strategic initiatives and activities, how they link together, and how strategy-making tools and techniques are used. This research concludes that a process-based approach is a useful and valid means to understand how strategy-making in ecosystems contributes to the emergence of a focal value proposition. The use of the process-based perspective decomposes the strategy-making phases into activities that present useful insights for academics and strategy practitioners into the nuances of ecosystem strategy making. However, there is a need to understand how strategy making in the generative phase of ecosystem development contributes to the focal value proposition materialising and subsequently how the open strategy lens informs our understanding of the alignment of ecosystem members to the value proposition. It is found that strategic management at the early stages of the Scottish fintech ecosystem genesis demonstrates characteristics of both planned and emergent approaches to decision-making. The planned ecosystem blueprint is augmented by open and inclusive dialogue amongst stakeholders with collaborative approaches to decision-making that help shape the design of the ecosystem. The core strategy process, in the generative phase of ecosystem development, is characterised by (i) triple helix collaboration to enable innovation, (ii) nurturing the environment for ecosystem birth to create momentum for ecosystem activity, and (iii) identifying and connecting organisations to enable new synergies and collaborations to emerge. Through the lens of open strategy, the aim is to understand the dynamics of strategic decision-making in the real-world scenario of an innovation ecosystem by assessing the ecosystem dynamics contributing to strategy development. The four dimensions of inclusivity, transparency, participation, and IT-enabledness were all recorded to varying degrees in the strategic management process observed in the Scottish fintech ecosystem. Although this study’s findings may be criticised as they are grounded on observations from three case study organisations, the dimensions and insights generated into the dynamic nature of the ecosystem strategy process in the fintech ecosystem is achieved through data saturation and emergent themes identified in the dataset.
Date of Award27 Jul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorAylin Ates (Supervisor) & Peter McKiernan (Supervisor)

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