Service ecosystems, markets and business networks: What is the difference? A horizontal literature review

Jonas Holmqvist*, Carlos Diaz Ruiz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Recent research demonstrates how firms strive to shape their business environment and level the playing field in their favor. To explain this phenomenon, business scholars use competing notions: markets, business networks and service ecosystems. The purpose of this paper is to identify and address a potential problem, in that these notions overlap to a considerable extent, as scholars tend to draw from and contribute to academic silos. Design/methodology/approach: The authors approach the issue of potential overlaps in the current literature on markets, business networks and service ecosystems through a literature review of each of these three concepts, with special attention to both their overlaps and differences.
Findings: The authors' review of the extant literature allows the authors to concur with Ballantyne et al. (2011) that contemporary service research shows a tendency to create, adopt and overuse labels. This situation has given rise to what the authors term "academic silos" in which even closely related research stream tend to become isolated, and the authors posit that a more holistic view would be beneficial.
Originality/value: The authors offer two main contributions to the existing literature. The first contribution is mainly theoretical, aimed at business research, and consists of providing a review and understanding of the partly competing, partly complimentary concepts of markets, business networks and service ecosystems, in which the authors' further address service ecosystems based on both a service-dominant logic and a service logic understanding. The second contribution is more managerial, arguing for the need of the successful business research to consider the desired end result of contributing to successful business practices.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalThe TQM Journal
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)800-810
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • services
  • networks
  • business studies


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