The Rise of the Ecosystem
The third feature of the modern economy is that firms are increasingly finding that their competitive advantage comes from collaboration with other firms and individuals rather than solely through their own efforts. This is where all the talk about “ecosystems” comes from. But once again, although it may be getting more popular as an approach, it is not something entirely new. Japan has had keiretsu for a long time. What’s more, the fact that companies may obtain competitive advantage through building ecosystems doesn’t change what the competitive advantage is that they obtain from building them: either the ecosystem enables their differentiation or generates a cost advantage.
–Roger L. Martin, “There Are Still Only Two Ways to Compete” on Harvard Business Review