Purpose – The aim of this paper is to examine service ecosystems dynamics from a managerial perspective in order to generate an improved understanding of ecosystem emergence and phase transitions. Approach – This conceptual paper adopts the theoretical lens of systems theories and, in particular, “Viable Systems Approach”, to provide a conceptual framework able to integrate concepts related to ecosystem emergence and institutional theory based on the structure/system paradigm. A case study from healthcare sector is provided to illustrate the conceptualizations. Findings – The provided framework permits a clearer understanding of the different adaptation processes shown in the service ecosystem dynamics, and their relationships with ecosystems stability, instability, need for new order parameters and emergent properties. Information and entropy are introduced as the main variables describing the service ecosystem dynamics. Research implications – By analyzing the role and changes of service ecosystem structure in facing emergence, this paper paves the way to further theoretical and practical studies on service ecosystems phase transitions. Originality/value – This paper is one of the first researches that conjugates systems theory and service ecosystem perspective in observing the dynamics of service ecosystems. The focus on structures opens up considerations on service ecosystems design and management.
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