Business ecosystem is widely defined by the alignment structure of the multilateral set of partners that need to interact in order for a focal value proposition to materialize, which makes the research of the construction of business ecosystem from the micro perspective become a hot issue. Due to the requirements of building a business ecosystem for resources and capabilities, some literature focuses on incumbent enterprises, emphasizing their arrangement for other actors. The other studies pay attention to new ventures, calling them as subversives of existing ecosystem. These studies, however, ignore the important context that new ventures synergize and symbiosize with existing enterprises to build a business ecosystem.
The spin-off enterprises supported by parent enterprises refer to an entrepreneurial form in which the entrepreneur leaves the parent enterprise to form an independent enterprise formally supported by the parent enterprise. With the characteristics of resource endowment and embedding relationship, this form affords an opportunity to supplement this gap. In view of the characteristics of the situation, the question of “how to build a business ecosystem for spin-offs supported by parent enterprises” emphasizes the process of new enterprises using parent resources, dealing with the relationship with parent enterprises, and re-connecting other partners. Therefore, the resource orchestration theory, which emphasizes the dynamic allocation of resources, provides a suitable perspective for interpreting this process.
On this basis, this study explores the whole process of constructing ecosystem for two spin-off enterprises from Haier and summarizes four core constructs, including “spin-off situation of parent” “structuring of ecological basis” “bounding of ecological synergy”, and “leveraging of ecological linkage”. On this basis, two different paths of business ecosystem construction called exploration and exploitation have been identified, and the “spin-off situation of parent” is the direct reason for the difference. Specifically, one company adopts an “exploratory” construction process, which experiences three processes: constructing niche resources, shaping leading ability, and uniting horizontally. The direct antecedent of this path lies in the parent reconstruction situation faced by the new venture. Another company adoptes the construction process of “utilization”, which experiences three processes: allocating parent resources, shaping connection ability, and intergrating vertically. The direct antecedent of this path lies in the parent expansion situation faced by the company’s fission entrepreneurship.
The conclusion of this study attempts to interpret the process of “how parent-supported fission entrepreneurial enterprises build a business ecosystem”, which reveals the relevant specific mechanisms and two heterogeneous business ecosystem construction paths. These findings not only make theoretical contributions to the dynamic research of business ecosystem, the resource orchestration theory, and the dual innovation of spin-off enterprises, but also provide practical inspiration for incumbent enterprises and spin-off enterprises that try to build an ecosystem.