Digital Ecosystems and Ecological Resilience


Aalto University School of Business, Otaniemi (address:  Otaniementie 14)

Thursday room Väre L102, Friday room Väre L101 


Registration is open until May 5. 


 Associate Professor Attila Márton, Copenhagen Business School


Professor Matti Rossi, Aalto University School of Business


The IS field has a long-standing tradition in drawing on ecological concepts for the study of information systems and infrastructures. While such concepts had fallen out of favour for a few decades, there has been a recent resurgence of ecological thinking. In particular, the notion of “digital ecosystem” has provided a helpful lens for conceptualizing the radically complex dynamics of digitalization, crossing and even transgressing the modernistic boundaries of organization, industry, lifeworld, mind, and body.

Against above backdrop, this workshop will give an introduction into ecological thinking as an epistemological disposition that is diametrically opposed to modernism and its fixation on command-and-control management through technological means. In particular, we will discuss how our approach to information systems changes, if we shift from the modernistic drive to maximize at all costs (be it profits, efficiency, or user numbers) to the ecological notion of stewarding the resilience of ecosystems.

Detailed Program

Day 1 – 16th May 

Morning session 10:00 – 12:00

(Readings: Márton 2022; Mitchell et al. 2020)

  • Introduction and welcome
  • Ecological thinking
    • Example: Ecology of explainable AI – The case of predictive policing
    • Group work

Afternoon session 13:00 – 17:00 (breaks included)

(Readings: Holling 2001; Mella and Gazzola 2019)

  • Follow the change
    • Holling’s adaptive cycle
  • Mapping the dynamics of ecosystems
    • How to draw Causal Loop Diagrams (Part 1) Materials
    • How to draw Causal Loop Diagrams (Part 2) Materials
    • How to draw Causal Loop Diagrams (Part 3) Materials
    • Group work: Case of Airbnb in Barcelona (link)

Socializing time 17:00

Day 2 – 17th May 

Morning session 9:00 – 13:30 (breaks included)

(Readings: Biggs et al. 2012; Boh et al. 2023)

  • Engineering resilience vs ecological resilience
  • Group work
  • Group presentations and discussion
  • Concluding remarks



Mandatory Readings:

Day 1 – morning session

Márton, A. (2022). "Steps toward a digital ecology: Ecological principles for the study of digital ecosystems." Journal of Information Technology 37(3): 250-265.

Mitchell, A. S., et al. (2020). "Learning from the Anthropocene: Adaptive epistemology and complexity in strategic managerial thinking." Sustainability 12(11).



Day 1 – afternoon session

Holling, C. S. (2001). "Understanding the complexity of economic, ecological, and social systems." Ecosystems 4(5): 390-405.

Mella, P. and P. Gazzola (2019). "Improving managers’ intelligence through systems thinking." Kybernetes 48(1): 58-78.



Day 2 – morning session

Biggs, R., et al. (2012). "Toward principles for enhancing the resilience of ecosystem services." Annual Review of Environment and Resources 37: 421-448.

Boh, W., et al. (2023). "Building digital resilience against major shocks." MIS Quarterly 47(1): 343-360.



Further Readings:

Ahlborg, H., et al. (2019). "Bringing technology into social-ecological systems research - Motivations for a socio-technical-ecological systems approach." Sustainability 11(7).

Baygi, R. M., et al. (2021). "Everything flows: Studying continuous socio-technological transformation in a fluid and dynamic digital world." MIS Quarterly 45(1): 423-452.

Benbya, H., et al. (2020). "Complexity and information systems research in the emerging digital world." MIS Quarterly 44(1): 1-17.

Ens, N. and A. Márton (2021). "“Sure, I saw sales, but it consumed me”. From resilience to erosion in the digital hustle economy." New Media & Society.

Holling, C. S. and G. K. Meffe (1996). "Command and control and the pathology of natural resource management." Conservation Biology 10(2): 328-337.

Jacobides, M. G., et al. (2018). "Towards a theory of ecosystems." Strategic Management Journal 39(8): 2255-2276.

Mikołajewska-Zając, K., et al. (2022). "Couchsurfing with Bateson: An ecology of digital platforms." Organization Studies 43(7): 1115-1135.

Phillips, M. A. and P. Ritala (2019). "A complex adaptive systems agenda for ecosystem research methodology." Technological Forecasting and Social Change 148.

Veit, D. J. and J. B. Thatcher (2023). "Digitalization as a problem or solution? Charting the path for research on sustainable information systems." Journal of Business Economics 93: 1231–1253.

Credit points

Doctoral students participating in the seminar can obtain 2 credit points. This requires participating and completing the assignment. Instructions for the assignment will be given at the seminar.

Registration fee

This seminar is free-of-charge for member organization's staff and their PhD students. For others the participation fee is 400 €. The participation fee includes access to the event and the event materials. Lunch and dinner are not included.