Professor Annabelle Gawer

Research Interests

Annabelle Gawer's leading-edge research focuses on digital and technological platforms, and innovative ecosystems. Digital platforms such as Google, Facebook or the iPhone are changing how innovation happens in our global, connected, fast-paced economy. They have become central to constellations of innovators called innovation ecosystems. Platforms have fostered distributed, collective innovation, redesigned our industrial landscapes, upset the balance of power between firms, and raised new questions on competition and innovation. Platforms offer unprecedented opportunities and new challenges to business managers, scholars and regulators, and citizens-innovators worldwide.

A pioneer of international stature in the field of platforms, Annabelle is a leading voice in advancing research ( Google Scholar Profile can be found here), as well as managerial practice and European policy. Annabelle's seminal research on platform leadership and innovation ecosystems has led to clearer understanding of some of the fundamental economic and innovation forces shaping the dynamics of platform-based high-tech industries such as telecoms, internet, electronics or digital media. She offers insights on the strategic management of platforms and the governance of their innovation ecosystems by exploring systematically the interaction between economic forces, micro- and macro- organizational forces, and technological design.

Watch a short film in which Annabelle Gawer talks about her research on platforms.

Annabelle Gawer was awarded in 2013 a prestigious UK EPSRC grant for a pilot study whose aim is to shape the UK research agenda on Platforms as New Economic Models in the Digital Economy.Platforms as New Economic Models in the Digital Economy, NEMODE (New Economic Models in the Digital Economy) Network+ , an initiative of RCUK. Annabelle also received a 300K ESRC Award "Platforms for Innovation", ESRC (UK Economic and Social Research Council) and AIM (Advanced Institute of Management) in 2007.

Annabelle's highly cited research creates insights from the creative and rigorous cross-fertilization of the academic disciplines in which she was trained (economics, engineering, organization theory), applied to the important question of the organization of collective, platform-based innovation in the presence of competition. Annabelle's research is both empirical (using qualitative data as well as mathematical modelling, as appropriate) and conceptual (theory-building). In addition to her two landmark books, Platform Leadership, and Platforms, Markets and Innovation, Annabelle's research has been published in top international journals such as Research Policy (2014), Organization Studies (2013), the Journal of Product Innovation Management (2013), the MIT Sloan Management Review (2002, 2008), the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy (2007), the European Management Review (2009), Research in the Sociology of Organizations (2010), etc.  Articles written for a managerial or a regulatory readership were also published in English, Japanese, and Chinese, for example in the Wall Street Journal (2009), the European Business Review (2011), Communications and Strategies (2012), the Hitotsubashi Business Review (2004), and the Beijing Business Review (2011). In addition, she is the author of reference book chapters on platforms and ecosystem innovation in the Oxford Handbook of Innovation Management (2014), and the Elsevier Encyclopedia for Social and Behavioral Sciences (2014).

Annabelle's 2014 Research Policy article, "Bridging differing persepectives on technological platforms: Toward an integrative framework" was selected as one of the  "Best Papers" by the Academy of Management annual conference (2014).

Annabelle's first book, Platform Leadership: How Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco Drive Industry Innovation (Harvard Business School Press, 2002), derived from her PhD thesis and co-authored with MIT Prof. M Cusumano, quickly became a reference in business and academia, and has had since its publication an impact on top-management thinking worldwide. It explains how Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, Palm and others have orchestrated ecosystem innovation to support their products - and in the process, established dominant market positions. It coined the concept of "platform leadership", a concept which has since spawned numerous further contributions. A Japanese translation was published in 2005.

Annabelle's second book, Platforms, Markets and Innovation (Edward Elgar, 2009), is a scholarly edited volume, and the first book of its kind dedicated to the growing field of platforms research. It presents leading-edge contributions from 24 top international scholars from 19 universities across Europe, the USA, and Asia, from the disciplines of strategy, economics, innovation, organizations studies, and knowledge management. The novel insights assembled in this volume constitute a fundamental step towards an empirically-based, nuanced understanding of the nature of platforms and the implications they hold for the evolution of industrial innovation. Annabelle organized in June 2008 the First International Conference on Platforms, Markets and Innovation at Imperial College London. Watch a film of the Platforms conference.

Annabelle is currently working on her third book, working title The Platform Strategy Handbook, with Prof Michael Cusumano from MIT and Prof David Yoffie from Harvard Business School.

Contact Me



Journal articles

  • Lopez-Berzosa D, Gawer AR, Camarillo G. (2016) 'Navigating the Patent Minefield Through Consortia'. MIT Sloan Management Review: MIT's journal of management research and ideas,
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    Technology consortia play an increasingly important role in the way new technology products are being developed and brought to market. High technology companies increasingly face situations in which developing new products often involves navigating around dozens or even hundreds of different patents owned by several companies. As a result, innovation is frequently prone to litigation. In addition to making it more costly, the looming threat of lawsuits increases strategic complexity and market uncertainty.

  • Gawer AR. (2014) 'Bridging Differing Perspectives on Technological Platforms: Toward an Integrative Framework'. Elsevier Research Policy, 43 (7), pp. 1239-1249.
  • Lopez-Berzosa D, Gawer A. (2014) 'Innovation policy within private collectives: Evidence on 3GPP's regulation mechanisms to facilitate collective innovation'. Technovation,
    [ Status: Accepted ]
  • Gawer AR, Cusumano MA. (2013) 'Industry Platforms and Ecosystem Innovation'. Wiley Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31 (3), pp. 417-433.
  • Gawer AR, Phillips N. (2013) 'Institutional Work as Logics Shift: The Case of Intel’s Transformation to Platform Leader'. Sage Organization Studies, 34 (8), pp. 1035-1071.
  • Gawer AR, Cowen T. (2012) 'Competition in the Cloud: Unleashing Investment and Innovation within and Across Platforms'. Communications and Strategies, 85 (1), pp. 45-62.
  • Gawer AR, Tee R. (2009) 'Industry Architecture as a Determinant of Successful Platform Strategies: A Case Study of the I-Mode Mobile Internet Service'. European Management Review, 6 (4), pp. 217-232.


    What factors and processes drive value appropriation and value creation in interdependent industry ecosystems? This paper explores this issue through a case study comparing the deployment of the i-mode mobile Internet service in two countries, seeking the reasons behind its contrasting fortunes: spectacular success in Japan vs failure in Europe. The comparison between network operators NTT Docomo in Japan and KPN in the Netherlands suggests that differences in the underlying industry architectures explain why similar platform strategies led to such different outcomes. The paper contributes to the literature on industry architecture by unpacking the interaction between evolutionary processes, industry architecture, and business strategies. It also contributes to the platforms literature, by positing that firms' ability to successfully pursue platform strategies depends on industry architecture.

  • Gawer AR, Cusumano MA. (2008) 'How Companies Become Platform Leaders'. MIT Sloan Management Review: MIT's journal of management research and ideas, Winter 2008, pp. 28-35.
  • Gawer AR, Henderson R. (2007) 'Platform Owner Entry and Innovation in Complementary Markets: Evidence from Intel'. Wiley Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 16 (1), pp. 1-34.

Gawer AR, Cusumano M, 2015, 978-0-19-969494-5, Platforms and Innovation, Editors: Dodgson, Gann, Phillips, Publisher: Oxford University Press, Pages: 648-667, ISBN: 978-0-19-874649-2

This chapter is about the role that platforms can play in innovation and their implications for innovation management. First, we define the term 'platform' and consider why this concept is important. Second, we discuss the different types of platforms as well as basic economic and strategic concepts associated with them as identified by researchers working in the field. Third, we examine a few major cases of platform leadership and innovation challenges that companies face as markets, technologies, and competition evolve. Finally, we review some of the major remaining issues for future research on platforms and innovation management.


Gawer AR, Cusumano MA, 2015, Business Platforms, International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Editors: Wright, Publisher: Elsevier, Pages: 337-42, ISBN: 978-0-08-097086-8

This article reviews the literature on platforms and sheds light on the design principles, economics fundamentals, and business strategies associated with platforms. We divide the discussion into two main types: product platforms designed by individual companies or assemblers of closed supply chains to develop new products or services on the basis of common and reusable components and architectures, and industry platforms which act as a foundation for an ecosystem of firms to develop a set of interrelated products and services. Present in a variety of organizational contexts, platforms create value for innovative ecosystem participants by structuring the innovation process around core and complementary elements and by creating the network effects that accelerate the adoption and use of platforms. With increased globalization of innovation capabilities, we expect the phenomenon of platforms to become an important new form of industrial organization. We conclude with highlighting concerns associated with platform dominance.


Gawer A, 2014, Bridging differing perspectives on technological platforms: Toward an integrative framework, RESEARCH POLICY, Vol: 43, Pages: 1239-1249, ISSN: 0048-7333


Gawer A, Cusumano MA, 2014, Industry Platforms and Ecosystem Innovation, JOURNAL OF PRODUCT INNOVATION MANAGEMENT, Vol: 31, Pages: 417-433, ISSN: 0737-6782


Lopez-Berzosa D, Gawer A, 2014, Innovation policy within private collectives: Evidence on 3GPP׳s regulation mechanisms to facilitate collective innovation, Technovation, Vol: 34, Pages: 734-745, ISSN: 0166-4972


Gawer A, Phillips N, 2013, Institutional Work as Logics Shift: The Case of Intel's Transformation to Platform Leader, ORGANIZATION STUDIES, Vol: 34, Pages: 1035-1071, ISSN: 0170-8406


Cowen T, Gawer A, 2012, Competition in the Cloud: Unleashing Investment and Innovation Within and Across Platforms, Communications and Strategies, Vol: 2012, ISSN: 1157-8637

: Innovation in the Cloud is challenging Europe’s telecoms industry and its regulatory system. The shift from ‘desktop to data centre’ and the provision of computing in the form of a service means that Cloud offerings are increasingly dependent on the quality of the underlying communications infrastructure. Critical parts of the infrastructure are regulated, and the role that regulation plays may limit services innovation and in turn may mean that communications infrastructure could become the ‘weakest link’ in a Cloud offering. This article presents an argument that draws on law, economics, and business platforms strategy to expose the incentives and impediments to innovation in Cloud computing. It assesses how European policy goals, the Lisbon Treaty and regulatory action interact, and proposes a change in the EU regulatory regime to reflect a duty to promote innovation as a stated goal. This change would encourage new business models to emerge, allowing the incumbent EU telecom network providers the opportunity to contribute to innovation in the Cloud. Such innovation would help spur investment and wider competition across platforms which would help realise Europe’s objective to drive growth and competitiveness.


Gawer A, 2011, What Managers Need to Know About Platforms, The European Business Review, Pages: 40-43, ISSN: 1754-5501


Gawer A, 2010, The Organization of Technological Platforms, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol: 29, Pages: 287-296, ISSN: 0733-558X

This essay examines the relationship between technology and organizations in the context of technological industry platforms. Industry platforms are technological building blocks (that can be technologies, products, or services) that act as a foundation on top of which an array of firms, organized in a set of interdependent firms (sometimes called an industry ecosystem), develop a set of inter-related products, technologies and services (Gawer, 2009).The study of platforms highlights an intriguing hypothesis: that the internal organization of firms (such as platform leaders) and the external organization of firms (i.e., the organization of the sector or the ecosystem of firms) are interrelated, and mediated by the organization of the platform technology. In particular, the internal organization of firms, when coherent with the organization of the technology, may have an influence on these firms’ ability to exert an influence on external firms.


Gawer A, 2009, Platforms, markets and innovation, ISBN: 9781848440708

'Annabelle Gawer's collected volume of research shows that a vibrant community of scholars has arisen around platforms and innovation. Each of the chapters is first rate, with top researchers offering some of their latest work. This will be an indispensable book for students of innovation and technology management everywhere.' - Henry Chesbrough, University of California, Berkeley, US. © Annabelle Gawer 2009. All rights reserved.


Gawer A, 2009, Platforms, markets and innovation: An introduction, Pages: 1-16, ISBN: 9781848440708


Gawer A, 2009, Platform dynamics and strategies: From products to services, Platforms, Markets and Innovation, Pages: 45-76, ISBN: 9781848440708


Tee R, Gawer A, 2009, Industry architecture as a determinant of successful platform strategies: a case study of the i-mode mobile Internet service, EUROPEAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW, Vol: 6, Pages: 217-232, ISSN: 1740-4754


Gawer A, Cusumano MA, 2008, How companies become platform leaders, MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW, Vol: 49, Pages: 28-+, ISSN: 1532-9194


Gawer A, Henderson R, 2005, Platform owner entry and innovation in complementary markets: evidence from Intel, NBER Working Paper, Vol: W11852, Pages: 1-36, ISSN: 1058-8450


Gawer A, Cusumano MA, 2004, What does it take to be a platform leader: some recent lessons from Palm and NTT DoCoMo, Hitotsubashi Business Review, Vol: 52, Pages: 6-20


Cusumano MA, Gawer A, 2003, The elements of platform leadership, IEEE Engineering Management Review, Vol: 31, Pages: 8-15, ISSN: 0360-8581

Most platform leaders do not have the capabilities or resources to create complete systems by making all the complements themselves. Thus, the combined efforts of platform leaders and complementary innovators increase the potential size of the pie for everyone. Platform leadership shows the ability of a company to drive innovation around a particular platform technology at the broad industry level.


Gawer A, Cusumano MA, 2002, Platform Leadership: How Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco Drive Industry Innovation, Boston, Massachusetts, Publisher: Harvard Business School Press, ISBN: 9781578515141

As high-tech industries become increasingly modular and interconnected--and the ability to innovate becomes the purview of just about anyone--the most successful companies are those that orchestrate industrywide innovations to support not only their products, but also the systems or platforms in which their products work. To become a platform leader--a company that provides the technological foundation on which other products are built--is the Holy Grail of these high-tech industries. The quest is complex and risky, because the success of platform leaders depends largely on their ability to encourage other firms to develop complementary innovations. High-tech-strategy experts Annabelle Gawer and Michael A. Cusumano explain how the best in class, including Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco, establish and grow their dominant positions. Based on these in-depth case studies and on incisive analysis, the authors present a framework for designing and implementing a successful platform strategy. From how to plan internal product development to how best to encourage external innovation activities, this comprehensive book offers executives, strategists, and entrepreneurs a framework for achieving market leadership in platform environments.


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