MONEY MATTERS: PIONEERING OF PLATFORMS UNDER INSTITUTIONAL UNCERTAINTY IN THE GLOBAL MOBILE MONEY INDUSTRY
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This dissertation seeks to better understand the phenomenon of industry emergence in settings characterized by high uncertainty. To examine mechanisms underlying industry emergence and growth, I compiled a unique, hand-collected, comprehensive quantitative and qualitative dataset of the global mobile money industry.
The first study examines variation in pioneering firm characteristics on choices to integrate capabilities within or across firm boundaries and to create network externalities through open or closed end user access to the mobile money platform. An analysis of the census of mobile money pioneering firms extends theories developed in traditional industrial settings by showing that pioneers were equally likely to engage in external and internal integration, with diversifying entrants less likely to internally integrate than startups. A deep data dive reveals how capabilities and motivations can be brought together to understand heterogeneity in firm choices for platform ecosystem development and underscores the importance of experimentation to resolve demand and ecosystem uncertainty to generate direct and indirect network effects.
This study unpacks the relationship between institutional uncertainty and industry emergence by examining two sources of institutional uncertainty: pre-existing market institutions (e.g., impersonal rule of law) and industry-specific institutions (e.g., regulations). As more industries of today are emerging globally, additional research is needed to understand how industry emergence may be affected by institutional uncertainty that differs from one country context to the next. This study examines the emergence of the mobile money industry across the African continent to understand 1) how variation in market institutions across countries influences firm entry and 2) the ways in which market institutions influence the regulatory approach for developing industry-specific institutions. My findings reveal that pre-existing market institutions related to colonial history are associated with variations in both entry patterns and approaches to developing industry-specific institutions. This study sheds light on the path dependencies at play across these two types of institutions, industry emergence, and innovation diffusion, enhancing our theoretical understanding of industry emergence across countries that vary in market-supporting institutions.
Together, this body of research underscores the importance of uncertainty reduction and experimentation for innovative solutions that provide a sustained solution to thorny societal problems. This is particularly critical in the poorest nations in the world, where underlying market institutions may be missing or inadequate, but can emerge and grow with industries.