Dr M.Mahdi Tavalaei

Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Digital Transformation
+44 (0)1483 684312
26 MS 02
Mondays 12:30-14:00 [face to face] & Thursdays 12:00-13:30 [online]


University roles and responsibilities

  • Research Lead, Department of Business Analytics and Operations
  • Research Seminars Coordinator, Department of Business Analytics and Operations
  • Interim Surrey Business School Exchange Coordinator, 2020-21


    Research interests

    Research projects


    Postgraduate research supervision



    Firms can benefit immensely from participating in digital platform ecosystems—specifically, from the shared technological assets and market opportunities offered by the platform owner. Yet, while aligning with the platform ecosystem rules, each member must decide whether to specialize in a given platform ecosystem or across multiple platform ecosystems to capture these benefits. We examine two common patterns through which platform ecosystem members (i.e., complementors) specialize within and across platform ecosystems, and the relative impact on their market performance. We look at the high relative standing of the complementary product as a reflection of complementors' specialization in the given product category or platform ecosystem. We then theorize that having products with high relative standing in a single product category and a single platform ecosystem, together, diminishes complementors’ market performance over time. Similarly, high relative standing in multiple platform ecosystems and multiple product categories, at the same time, adversely impacts the market performance. We find supportive evidence for our hypotheses, in a panel dataset of mobile app developers. This paper contributes to the burgeoning stream of research that investigates the trade-offs faced by complementors, suggesting that complementor strategies are more complex than simply trying to maximize market reach.

    Joana Pereira, M. Mahdi Tavalaei, Hakan Özalp (2019)Blockchain-based platforms: decentralized infrastructures and its boundary conditions, In: Technological Forecasting & Social Change146pp. 94-102 Elsevier

    Blockchain technology has been receiving much public attention recently, promising to disintermediate transactions through a decentralized governance and a distributed data-infrastructure. However, the majority of the previous studies have focused on the technical aspects, and overlooked blockchain investigation from a managerial perspective. In this paper, based on platform-ecosystem, transaction cost economics, and open-source literature, we contrast and compare blockchain-based platforms and centralized platforms; in other words, decentralized versus centralized governance of the platform. We base our conceptual analysis on three dimensions—transaction cost, cost of technology, and community involvement—, exploring the conditions under which blockchain-based platforms are more advantageous than centralized platforms. We, first, compare gains from lower opportunism and uncertainty thanks to protocols and smart contracts in blockchain technology versus costs of higher coordination and complexity of (re)writing those contracts. Second, we compare gains from immutability and transparency in blockchain-based platforms versus the technological cost of verification and distributed ledger infrastructure. Finally, we compare intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of community around centralized and blockchain-based platforms to participate and different mechanism involved, i.e. pricing mechanism in the former and crypto-incentives in the latter.

    Mahdi Tavalaei (2020)Waiting time in two-sided platforms: The case of the airport industry, In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change159120181 Elsevier

    This paper investigates the concept of manipulating waiting time in airports, an interesting but relatively unexplored example of the two-sided platform. In this context, “waiting time” refers to the time that users (i.e., airlines/passengers) must spend within/dealing with a platform (i.e., the airport) before accomplishing their goal (i.e., boarding). Even if users on one side dislike waiting time, many two-sided platforms have an incentive not to minimize it in certain situations in order to gain more revenues from users on the other side (i.e. in-terminal concessionaires), who may benefit from waiting time. I argue that passengers’ waiting time before being able to board their flights—that is, airside waiting time—tends to increase when management of the commercial side is outsourced. This effect will be reinforced when the commercial side, rather than the airside, is the more prominent source of revenue generation. Further, I find that concentration of concessionaires on the commercial side positively moderates the waiting time. Overall, this paper contributes to the emerging studies on nonpricing strategies in two-sided platforms.

    M. Mahdi Tavalaei, Juan Santalo (2019)Pure versus hybrid competitive strategies in the airport industry, In: Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice124pp. 444-455 Elsevier

    The advent of low-cost carriers has dramatically changed the competitive landscape of the airport industry and diminished the monopoly power that airports once enjoyed. Today, major airports compete directly with periphery airports, which are becoming the apparent choice of low-cost carriers. In fact, contracting with low-cost airlines has become a determinant factor in airport strategies, and airports now face a strategic decision to position themselves towards either low-cost or full-service (legacy) airline, or both. This paper examines the impact of these competitive strategies on airport financial performance. Building on the strategic purity premise, we hypothesise that being either a low-cost-oriented or legacy-oriented airport (pursuing a pure strategy) is associated with superior financial performance, in comparison with combining the two (a hybrid strategy). Moreover, the benefit of pure strategies increases with the intensity of competition among nearby airports. The paper supports these hypotheses with findings drawn from the U.S. airport industry.

    Jing Zeng, M Mahdi Tavalaei, MOHAMMAD MAHDI TAVALAEI, Zaheer Khan (2021)Sharing economy platform firms and their resource orchestration approaches, In: Journal of Business Research136pp. 451-465 Elsevier Inc

    Drawing upon key insights from the resource orchestration framework as a dynamic perspective on the resource-based view (RBV), we investigated the value creation dynamics found in sharing economy platform firms. By performing multiple-case analyses on platform firms operating in the sharing economy in China, we identified three main mechanisms by which sharing economy platform firms orchestrate their external resources (i.e., crowds of suppliers and consumers) to create value and gain a competitive advantage—constructing on-demand resource adaptation, building big-data-driven network effects, and enabling ecosystem resource coordination. We contribute to the emerging literature on the sharing economy while extending the RBV to the digital platform context, in which the value creation process is significantly shifted to beyond the boundaries of the firm.

    Additional publications