Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 39 Number 2 2022 pp. 366-394

Leveraging Platform Boundary Resources: The Role of Distributed Sensemaking

Soh, Franck and Grover, Varun


Although mobile platform ecosystems are highly competitive environments, they provide important entrepreneurial opportunities for app developer organizations. To facilitate app innovations, platform owners regularly release platform boundary resources (PBRs) by adding novel technologies at the platform level. App developer organizations, however, face high levels of technological uncertainty as they create app-level innovations based on PBRs. We examine the effectiveness of the level of distributed sensemaking about PBRs in a context of technological uncertainty arising from either PBR’s technological unrelatedness with prior PBRs or app complexity. Using a dataset of 933 PBR-based app innovations, the findings significantly contribute to our understanding of the duality between competition and cooperation in a platform ecosystem. We demonstrate that distributed sensemaking among app developers, who potentially compete against each other, is crucial for enhancing app competitive performance, especially when technological uncertainty is high. Thus, we encourage greater cooperation among app developer organizations to leverage PBRs.

Key words and phrases: Mobile platforms, boundary resources, innovation, sensemaking, technological unrelatedness, app complexity, app innovations, app development