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The middle manager in search of business model innovation

Sergejs Groskovs (Department of Strategy and Innovation, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
John P. Ulhøi (Department of Management, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 15 November 2018

Issue publication date: 9 July 2019




It does not always take a heroic CEO to initiate a major transformation such as business model innovation. A middle manager with a personal drive and a sense of need for change may well jump-start this process. This paper aims to offer a simple framework and a set of practical guidelines for engaging the broader organisation in business model search and change activities.


This paper draws on research in entrepreneurship, organisational change and strategic renewal; develops a set of managerial guidelines; and illustrates those with practical examples.


Business model innovation is an iterative, dynamic and continuous process of search and change activities. Key practical guidelines to manage this process include understanding the environment, ensuring resources and funding, engaging entrepreneurial individuals, committing senior management, firm orchestration of the change process and involvement of middle management and employees.

Practical implications

The framework allows for structuring a business model innovation and offers key guidelines for the journey, thus enabling an entrepreneurial middle manager to lead the effort.


Despite that business model innovation is normally considered the domain of the CEO, this paper shows that middle managers can also play a key role in the process. The value of the paper lies in the simplicity and practicality of the framework.



Groskovs, S. and Ulhøi, J.P. (2019), "The middle manager in search of business model innovation", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 3-10.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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