The Cuckoo’s Nest Approach for Co-Creating Business Ecosystems in Smart Cities

Karlos Artto, Riikka Kyrö, Tuomas Ahola, Antti Peltokorpi, Kristiina Sandqvist

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The development of business ecosystems in smart cities is currently hampered by the absence of established approaches for facilitating long-term value and sustainability. In our view, the underlying reason is the lack of collective action involving various organizations in the design process. Collective action for the good of the whole ecosystem does not take place in existing participatory practices because of the dominating role of a single customer or designer organization (in urban development projects typically the owner-developer or lead architect), who uses their bargaining and decision-making power over others. This leads to sub-optimal behaviour where the system is optimized for the goals of one strong organization instead of collectively developed system-level goals of the business ecosystem as a whole. The Cuckoo’s Nest approach addresses this problem by inviting various expert organizations to design the system and assigning each organization design rights for the ecosystem and its system-level goal. The Cuckoo’s Nest approach enhances collective action among the organizations by making individuals from various organizations consider the interests, goals, objectives, and value-adding elements of other organizations – not just those of their own organizations. With the Cuckoo’s Nest approach, the business ecosystem comes first, and single organizations’ goals or specific design features come second. This article discusses the outcomes of two workshops where the Cuckoo’s Nest approach was used for the purpose of developing business ecosystems in connection with smart city development projects within the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. We outline the steps involved in the Cuckoo’s Nest approach and how they were applied in these two smart city projects, and we describe how it is being refined for further use in other locations and contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-37
JournalTechnology Innovation Management Review
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cuckoo’s Nest Approach
  • smart cities
  • sustainability
  • business ecosystem
  • business network
  • campus development
  • co-creation
  • Co-design
  • collective action
  • participatory planning

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