Handbook on Digital Business Ecosystems

This Handbook edited by Sabine Baumann provides a comprehensive overview of current research and industrial applications as well as suggestions for future developments.


In our contribution, we highlight the strategic tensions in a digital business ecosystem (DBE). In such a business environment, strategists have to face not only a trade-off between exploiting existing resources and investing in new business opportunities. Each individual member of a digital business environment has to operate also successfully in the field of tension between cooperation and rivalry.


Applying the creating competitiveness framework, we describe four ideal types for resolving such strategic tensions in a DBE, exemplified by Amazon's marketplace. Hereby we show that, the platform owner is producing rivalry and at the same time is the main designer of its environmental conditions, thus calling for strategic choice. Sellers within this ecosystem face intense rivalry and can survive only by exploiting their existing competencies, thus calling for continuity. In addition, there are those who provide innovations for improving the ecosystem itself, which requires strategic choice and often relies more on cooperation instead of rivalry. Relationship building is also essential for those firms in the ecosystem that try to utilize existing business models, like logistics providing the opportunities on the “last mile”. 


For any strategist in a digital business ecosystem, the first question is: How do these strategic tensions within the DBE affect our business model? It is only by addressing these tensions that the fundamental strategic scope for action becomes apparent. The online assessment tool “CC-finder” is a first step in developing a thorough understanding of the initial situation of a business model. It takes about 10-15 minutes and provides the analyst with valuable insights with regard to the specific competitive dynamics, and useful  strategy tools and management approaches.

Sabine Reisinger und Johannes M. Lehner


Reisinger, S., & Lehner, J. M. (2022). Dealing with strategic tensions in digital business ecosystems (p. 63-79). In Handbook on Digital Business Ecosystems. Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781839107191.00011

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