The Evolution of Business Ecosystems: Interspecies Competition in the Steel Industry


Date: November 8, 2010Akshat Mathur

Speakers: Akshat Mathur, SDM alum and Ted Piepenbrock, Ph.D.Theodore Piepenbrock

Title: The Evolution of Business Ecosystems: Interspecies Competition in the Steel Industry

Abstract: This presentation builds on the work of Theodore F. Piepenbrock, whose 2009 MIT doctoral thesis, “Towards a Theory of Evolution of Business Ecosystems,” proposed that firms in the same industry vary systematically in performance over time as a result of differences in architecture. Piepenbrock defines architecture in terms of the strength, closeness, and the specific morphology of relationships that exist between the core firm and the four markets that are its key stakeholders-product markets, capital markets, supplier markets and labor markets. Mathur extends Piepenbrock’s model to examine its validity in commodity industries, specifically the steel industry from the 1860s to the present.

Akshat Mathur is a recent SDM alum and an accomplished operations and supply chain management professional. Graduating with a Metallurgical Engineering degree in 1995, he went on to a career in various operations management, strategy and planning roles in the steel industry in India, before joining the SDM program in 2008. While at SDM, his interest was strongly piqued by the path-breaking research of Ted Piepenbrock in the field of evolution of business ecosystems. With his background in the steel industry, he explored about the applicability of Piepenbrock’s framework to the Steel industry and other commodity industries. His thesis, the topic of this webinar, is the result of his working closely with Ted to analyze and examine the applicability of the Theory of Evolution of Business Ecosystems to the US steel industry.

Dr. Theodore Piepenbrock is an international researcher, lecturer and consultant in strategic management, leadership and macro-organizational change to leading universities and global Fortune 100 companies. Throughout his career, he has worked in over twenty countries, lectured on management and engineering in many of the world’s leading universities (e.g. MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, UCL, Tokyo Institute of Technology), has appeared in various international news media (e.g. CNN-TV, BBC-TV, ITV, SKY-TV, The Learning Channel, The Discovery Channel) and his work has featured in the business press (e.g. Forbes and MIT Sloan Management Review).He received an interdisciplinary B.Sc. in engineering & humanities as a Da Vinci scholar, an M.Eng. in nonlinear structural dynamics from the University of California at Berkeley, a dual M.B.A./M.Sc. as a Leaders for Global Operations Fellow and an interdisciplinary PhD in strategy, organizational behavior and system architecting from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Engineering Systems Division. He was as a researcher with MIT’s Lean Advancement Initiative and Communications Futures Program and is currently a postdoctoral research associate at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, where his research focuses on inter-organizational architectures, inter-species competition and the evolution of business ecosystems.