Ecosystems and value chains

Ecosystems and value chains

Comparing examples found in nature with examples of business enterprises, we highlight the different characteristics that make up an ecosystem's value chain.


Value chains are made up of separate suppliers, delivering to competing producers, delivering to separate customers. Also referred to as environments, ecosystems are a self-developed coexistence of various creatures.


Ecosystems are made up of all different characteristics, including specialists, coopetitors, cross feeders, system developers, infomediaries, system service providers, sector shapers, aggregators, open platforms, intermediaries, sectors, clusters, geographic hubs, adaptors, communities.


With a case study for each characteristic, the slide deck below will help you to understand your ecosystem positioning and how you can use these levers to visually map the different actors that make up your ecosystem.


For example, look at coopetitors. Coopetitors are direct competitors who work together to share the cost of development, set standards, develop an new market, while maintaining their competitive offers in the market. In nature, different species such as coyotes and badgers may hunt together to form unlikely but mutually beneficial partnerships. In a case study from enterprise, Philips and Sony jointly set new industry-standards when developing the first CD-player. The open source movement is another form of coopetition.

To discover your own business ecosystems and value chains, join the THNK Executive Leadership Program.