Repositioning and cost-cutting: The impact of competition on platform strategies

Robert Seamans, Feng Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organizational structures are increasingly complex. In particular, more firms today operate as multisided platforms. In this paper, we study how platform firms use repositioning and cost-cutting in response to competition, elucidate external and internal factors that constrain or enable these responses, and examine how the firms' responses affect their performance. Our empirical context is the U.S. newspaper industry, which has experienced increased competition following the entry of Craigslist, an online provider of classified ads. We find that when Craigslist enters a newspaper's market, the newspaper repositions itself away from other newspapers by changing its content. This results in greater differentiation between newspapers in a market, but occurs primarily in markets in which reader preferences are heterogeneous. When reader preferences are homogeneous, newspapers are more likely to engage in cost-cutting. Both responses are more pronounced for newspaper firms whose sister firms have already experienced Craigslist's entry. We also find that failure to design the right response harms competitive viability. These findings offer important implications for many platform firms operating in today's digital economy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-99
Number of pages17
JournalStrategy Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Cost-cutting
  • Intrafirmlearning
  • Multisidedmarkets
  • Platformstrategies
  • Repositioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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