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Multifunctional organisation models: A systems – theoretical framework for new venture discovery and creation

Steffen Roth (La Rochelle Business School, La Rochelle, France) (Yerevan State University, Yerevan, Armenia)
Vladislav Valentinov (Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Halle, Germany)
Jari Kaivo-oja (Finland Futures Research Centre, Turku School of Economics, Turku, Finland)
Léo-Paul Dana (Montpellier Business School, Montpellier, France)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 25 October 2018

Issue publication date: 9 November 2018




Are entrepreneurial opportunities discovered or created? The debate around this question has crucial implications for successful organizational change management in the business world. The present conceptual paper transcends this debate by embedding the concept of the entrepreneurial opportunities within a Luhmannian systems – theoretical framework which accentuates the unique role of organization and change in the age of functional differentiation. The purpose of this paper is to show how the strategic navigation of the borders between function systems such as politics, science, education, religion, art, or, of course, economy leads to the discovery or creation new opportunities for both business and social entrepreneurship.


The paper combines Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social differentiation with Kim and Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy. The key argument is that the alternative regimes of social differentiation, such as segmentation, centralization, stratification, and functional differentiation, create distinct pools of entrepreneurial opportunities to be discovered, created, and exploited by adequate business models. (Business) Organizations, therefore, need to strategically adjust the amount of attention they devote to the different forms of social differentiation. The argument is buttressed with illustrative examples of business models related to the regime of functional differentiation.


A paradoxical finding is that the multifunctional business models which explicitly draw on the value creation potential of the most recent form of social differentiation, functional differentiation, remain little known even though they infuse business organizations with a unique capacity of new venture discovery and creation in the modern society.


Multifunctional business models have so far remained unexplored in entrepreneurship theory and practice. This paper develops a first strategic approach to the discovery or creation of both multifunctional business models and a broader framework of multifunctional organization models.



The authors are grateful to anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments.


Roth, S., Valentinov, V., Kaivo-oja, J. and Dana, L.-P. (2018), "Multifunctional organisation models: A systems – theoretical framework for new venture discovery and creation", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 31 No. 7, pp. 1383-1400.



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