Welcome to week 5

Hello and a warm welcome to all participants in this massive open online course!

This week we will focus on specific aspects of cooperation and collaboration in business. Everybody talks about hypercompetition due to the globalization of business. At the same time, business media increasingly put their attention to cooperation among companies.
Is it surprising? Certainly not! As Martin Nowak has pointed out in his book “SuperCooperators – Altruism, Evolution and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed” (2011), we humans possess a unique capability for cooperation and this may have been our most relevant advantage in the evolution.

The more we are able to communicate, the more we trade with each other, the more cooperation has to take place. Today, we live in an age of hypercooperation. Let us therefore look at some aspects of cooperation in business, in particular at cooperation in Supply Chains. We will see how important effective cooperation in the supply chain is for the success of the participating organizations.

A Business Ecosystem takes cooperation to the next level. Instead of working consciously together – often on a contractual basis – organizations and individuals in an ecosystem often collaborate without actively selecting their partners. They just happen to share some interest or beliefs.

The concept is based on an analogy with biological ecosystem, where plants and animals don’t chose to work together either. It just makes evolutionary sense, provides value. The same idea is the driver behind the business model of some highly successful companies. Instead of doing everything themselves, they design their models in a way that makes it attractive for other organizations and individuals to participate in value creation. Even customers are being involved and become prosumers or co-creators of value.

Even in the daily news, the term Business Ecosystem is increasingly being used. The Googler nGram visualizes how the usage has increased since the article by James F. Moore in the Harvard Business Review in 1986 (in the figure below I compare it with another widely used term, “core competence of the corporation”, which was introduced by an article written by Gary Hamel and C.K Prhalad in the Harvard Business Review around the same time. While the latter has seen it’s peak, the term Business Ecosystem is still on the rise. Hence, I thought, it would be appropriate to learn a little bit more about it.


I hope I could ignite some interest and am looking forward to your participation this week! I promise that you will gain new insights. I will do my best to support you in your learning.

Denny N. Seiger


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