Over the last decade, digital platforms have been an important source of innovation across a variety of industries, especially in digital businesses driven by information technology. Across developed and developing countries, thousands of small and large firms have developed products and services for computers, mobile infrastructures, and other consumer electronics devices that serve as industry platforms. All these firms and their partners participate in business ecosystem innovation (Moore, 1996; Iansiti and Levien, 2004; Adner 2012) with platforms facilitating significant value through its network effects. Key areas of ongoing research on digital platforms include platform evolution (Tiwana et al. 2010) as well as platform economics and governance (e.g., Eisenmann et al. 2009; Gawer 2014; Tiwana 2015).
Digital platforms give rise to new digital phenomena, such as open data, social media and Web 2.0, and lay the foundation for the early formation and subsequent development of online communities (OCs). The evolution of digital platforms have significantly altered the nature of online community building, collaboration and organizing which bring together large numbers of geographically dispersed individuals whether it be for business activity or social support or a combination of the two. Researchers have investigated a range of issues in the context of OCs, from what motivates people to participate and contribute in support of an activity, interest, or identity. Online communities provide forums for wide-ranging efforts in product development, and knowledge creation. OCs are now increasingly seen as spaces for knowledge flows that provide value to society and to participants (Faraj, von Krogh, Monteiro, and Lakhani 2016). Through ongoing knowledge collaboration (Faraj, Jarvenpaa, Majchrzak 2011) in these OC’s, a high volume and diverse range of data accumulate from which value propositions are created. These new business models are intimately connected to the dynamic evolution of the underlying digital platforms (Barrett, Oborn, Orlikowski 2016) and can have far-reaching implications for economy and society.
With the rapid and often unexpected growth and development of these OC’s and digital platforms, open governance becomes an increasingly important development dimension and a significant challenge. As organizations rely more on IT and draw on open data use strategically for new value propositions, there are significant IT-related risks on these platforms and in these OCs. Issues such as access to open data, data security and privacy risks, technical risks, and operational risks abound. Governments introduce regulations for implementing IT governance, control, and risk management practices, challenging organizations’ established routines. Globally distributed organizations are often subject to a variety of IT-related regulations that span multiple country boundaries. In addition to these formal rules and sanctions, recent work on governance has roots in collective action research (Ostrom 1990, 2010) and places emphasis on bottom-up approaches. Further, the need for novel forms of governance which account for multiple meanings attributed to the digital platform as a public or private good have led to a polycentric approach for governing platform development (Constantinides and Barrett 2014).