Professor Geoffrey Parker, director of Dartmouth’s Master of Engineering Management program, won the Thinkers50 Digital Thinking Award presented in partnership with Accenture, along with his research partner Marshall Van Alstyne of Boston University. The pair were nominated for their analysis of the concept of the inverted firm, which shows how value is increasingly created outside rather than inside the firm.
“There’s been a shift in the composition of company value from tangible assets that can be seen and touched to intangibles such as intellectual property, brand, and the value of a firm’s user base. This shift toward intangibles is partly driven by the rise of platform structure that allows consumers to directly interact with a business using platform resources that support producers and consumers,” said Parker, who has taught at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth since 2016. “Marshall and I were among the first to develop a formal mathematical model to explore the factors that drive firms toward external production.”
The concept is central to their international bestselling book, Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets are Transforming the Economy, also co-written by Sangeet Paul Choudary. As an example of the inverted firm, Parker cites Salesforce.com. The company’s core platform is designed to help firms manage their customer relations. The company also allows developers to access their platform and its tools to create and offer applications that extend the functionality of the core offering and tailor it to specific industry applications. This allows the company to access innovation and production resources far beyond what they could accomplish with just their own resources.
Parker accepted the award in London at the 2019 Thinkers50 Awards Gala on Monday, November 18th. The Digital Thinking Award celebrates the thinkers who have done the most to transform the digital revolution into useful management insights, according to Thinkers50.
“It’s a tremendous honor to win an award like this, because it means that our academic work is also having an impact in the broader world. That’s one of my goals as an academic—to not only create knowledge, but also to see the application of that knowledge,” said Parker.
Thinkers50 is the world’s most reliable resource for identifying, ranking, and sharing the leading management ideas of the era, according to its website. Along with the Digital Thinking Award, Parker and Van Alstyne were named #36 on the Thinkers50 2019 Ranking of management thinkers published every two years.
In addition to Parker, Vijay Govindarajan of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business received the Innovation Award in partnership with Fujitsu for introducing the concept of reverse innovation, in which an innovation is adopted first in the developing world and then brought into developed countries.