From fields to bytes: orchestrating digital ecosystems in rural areas


  • Giovanna Terrizzi
  • Alba Marino
  • Maria Cristina Cinici
  • Daniela Baglieri


digital platform ecosystems; rural areas; blockchain; agri-food


Framing of the research. In recent years, agri-food companies have started to build digital platform ecosystems to implement complex value propositions. Typically orchestrated by a focal actor, these digital platform ecosystems have been seen as collaborative arrangements through which companies combine their individual offerings into a coherent customer-facing solution, the core of which is a technology platform. In contexts hostile to change, the role of orchestrators becomes even more critical for initiating and managing their construction.
Purpose of the paper. This study focuses on the emergence of digital platform ecosystems in rural areas and the key role of the orchestrator. Specifically, it aims to investigate how focal actors initiate their emergence in peripheral areas.
Methodology. We adopt a single case study design with a focus on an experimental initiative to create an integrated multichain digital traceability platform. To conduct the exploratory study, we draw on a series of primary and secondary data.
Results. Our results identify the set of activities through which a focal actor pursuing collective interests initiates the emergence of a digital platform ecosystem. By distinguishing between the ecosystem design and launch phases, we shed light on how the orchestrator plans not only the ecosystem but also the actions implemented to motivate participation and govern it.
Research limitations. This study is limited to companies operating against the backdrop of a shared project to create a digital platform ecosystem.
Managerial implications. Our study highlights how firms can manage the adoption of digital technologies by exploiting external collaborations. Moreover, we offer a multiplayer perspective of the mechanisms behind traditional sectors’ innovative efforts in rural areas.
Originality of the paper. Although digital platform ecosystems have been the subject of numerous studies in the agri-food sector, to the best of our knowledge, there is no comprehensive and exhaustive exploration of the phenomenon within a rural area where ecosystem participants combine efforts to create value in an innovation-hostile environment.


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