Business Models and Modelling: Volume 33

Cover of Business Models and Modelling
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Table of contents

(20 chapters)
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Part I: Strategizing with Business Models

Abstract

This paper considers the nature of the business model and its strategic relevance to negotiations. We elaborate a substantive definition of the business model as decisions enforced by the authority of the firm; this definition enables the analysis of business models through the analysis of individual firm choices. We situate negotiation outcomes within the strategy literature by considering “ambivalent value” – value produced by the interaction of partner firms that does not necessarily accrue to any of them. The extent of “ambivalent value” is unclear, but its persistence, despite changing structural market features, promises to help sustain superior profits in the long run. We conclude with an exploration of some ways in which firms’ business models may impact their negotiation outcomes. Several of the proposed pathways work intuitively through the intrinsic characteristics (motivation, personality, etc.) of agents negotiating on behalf of the firm; others operate independently of those characteristics.

Abstract

Business models can be considered as cognitive models that managers or analysts can use to describe, understand, or test business activities. However, the emergence of a new business model requires not only cognitive operations but also concrete modifications to the realities of a company’s operations and structures. In this paper, we adopt a sociomaterial view of organizational change based on actor-network theory, and underline the role of artifacts in the emergence of new business models. We base our discussion on a case study of a French leader in kitchen electric appliances. Despite the fact that the building of its new business model is still in progress, this empirical study provides important suggestions concerning the role of artifacts.

Abstract

Despite ample research on the topic of business model innovation, little is known about the cognitive processes whereby some innovative business models gain the status of iconic representations of particular types of firms. This study addresses the question: How do iconic business models emerge? In other words: How do innovative business models become prototypical exemplars for new categories of firms? We focus on the case of Airbnb, and analyze how six mainstream business media publications discussed Airbnb between 2008 and 2013. The cognitive process whereby Airbnb’s business model became the iconic business model for the sharing economy involved three phases. First, these publications drew on multiple analogies to try to assimilate Airbnb’s innovative business model into their existing system of categories. Second, they developed a more nuanced understanding of Airbnb’s business model. Finally, they established it as the prototypical exemplar of a new type of organization. We contribute to business model research by providing an elaborated definition of the notion of the iconic business model which is rooted in social categorization research, and by theorizing the cognitive process that underpins the emergence of iconic business models. Our study also complements research on the role of analogical reasoning in business model innovation. Finally, we complement the market categorization literature by documenting a case of the emergence of a prototypical exemplar.

Abstract

Business model research has long focused on external triggers, drivers, and enablers of business model adoption. What is less well known is how business models are adopted in practice. Using a conceptual framework developed by Baden-Fuller and Mangematin, we propose 16 ideal types of business models. Based on a qualitative comparative analysis of 77 businesses, we explore the antecedents of these business model types, paying particular attention to multi-sided models, which are growing in prominence, and require businesses to manage complexity and interdependencies. Surprisingly, our analyses reveal that tools developed to support business design, creativity, or visualization were systematically absent from the operationalization of complex, multi-sided business models. The paper contributes to our understanding in three ways: (1) it reveals how businesses with complex, multi-sided models are crafted using heuristics rather than rational business model design tools, (2) it highlights consistent relationships between the practices employed during business creation/reconfiguration and the business models that are adopted, and (3) it opens fruitful research avenues to develop tools to support heuristics in business design and implementation.

Abstract

The growing literature on business models has so far had limited impact on research in strategy. The main reason for this is the fact that the intellectual territory of the business model construct overlaps significantly with that of strategy. Without acknowledging this overlap, academics doing research on business models run the risk of asking questions that have already been explored in the strategy literature. This implies that research on business models can only become more impactful if we first identify explicitly what is different between the business model and strategy concepts and then focus our research questions on that difference.

Part II: Modelling the Business Model

Abstract

The concept of modularity has gained considerable traction in technology studies as a way to conceive, describe, and innovate complex systems, such as product design or organizational structures. In the recent literature, technological modularity has often been intertwined with business model innovation, and scholarship has started investigating how modularity in technology affects changes in business models, both at the cognitive and activity system levels. Yet we still lack a theoretical definition of what modularity is in the business model domain. Business model innovation also encompasses different possibilities of modelling businesses, which are not clearly understood nor classified. We ask when, how, and if modularity theory can be extended to business models in order to enable effective and efficient modelling. We distinguish theoretically between modularity for technology and for business models, and investigate the key processes of modularization and manipulation. We introduce the basic operations of business modelling via modular operators adapted from the technological modularity domain, using iconic examples to develop an analogical reasoning between modularity in technology and in business models. Finally, we discuss opportunities for using modularity theory to foster the understanding of business models and modelling, and develop a challenging research agenda for future investigations.

Abstract

While recent research has referred to a cognitive view on “business modelling,” it remains unclear in specifying the cognitive foundations of how such modelling happens. This paper proposes building on heuristics as models of individual cognition, which have proved effective foundations of adaptive individual and managerial behaviors. By also drawing on gestalt theory to specify principles of modelling as rule-based form giving, we propose business modelling as a managerial cognitive process of configuring heuristics. The paper makes three contributions. First, we introduce heuristics to the business modelling literature and so provide an established theory of adaptive individual behavior that strengthens the cognitive foundations of business modelling. Second, we conceptualize and theorize on the cognitive activity of business modelling as an iterative process of configuring heuristics by applying gestalt principles. Although the literature on business models has referred to the theories of configurations and gestalt, it has been left to this work to make the theoretical linkages between heuristics, gestalt theory and business modelling explicit. Third, our work contributes to the micro-foundations of the cognitive processes underlying business modelling and thus to broader accounts of adaptive managerial behaviors.

Abstract

Research has highlighted the cognitive nature of the business model intended as a cognitive representation describing a business’ value creation and value capture activities. Although the content of the business model has been extensively investigated from this perspective, less attention has been paid to the business model’s causal structure – that is the pattern of cause-effect relations that, in top managers’ or entrepreneurs’ understandings, link value creation and value capture activities. Building on the strategic cognition literature, this paper argues that conceptualizing and analysing business models as cognitive maps can shed light on four important properties of a business model’s causal structure: the levels of complexity, focus and clustering that characterize the causal structure and the mechanisms underlying the causal links featured in that structure. I use examples of business models drawn from the literature as illustrations to describe these four properties. Finally, I discuss the value of a cognitive mapping approach for augmenting extant theories and practices of business model design.

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Abstract

Digital business models are often designed for rapid growth, and some relatively young companies have indeed achieved global scale. However, despite the visibility and importance of this phenomenon, analysis of scale and scalability remains underdeveloped in management literature. When it is addressed, analysis of this phenomenon is often over-influenced by arguments about economies of scale in production and distribution. To redress this omission, this paper draws on economic, organization, and technology management literature to provide a detailed examination of the sources of scaling in digital businesses. We propose three mechanisms by which digital business models attempt to gain scale: engaging both non-paying users and paying customers; organizing customer engagement to allow self-customization; and orchestrating networked value chains, such as platforms or multi-sided business models. Scaling conditions are discussed, and propositions developed and illustrated with examples of big data entrepreneurial firms.

Part III: Enacting Business Models

Abstract

We study three private hospital organizations in India that were set up to deliver affordable high quality, services to the poor. Their distinctive feature is that they have successfully balanced two apparently contradictory logics: financial (doing well) and social (doing good) through business model innovations. By analyzing abundant primary and secondary data, we document in detail the key features of their business models – customer identification, customer engagement, value chain and linkages, and monetization – and document how they contribute to the organizations’ ability to deliver high quality healthcare at very low prices. We analyze the impact of these organizations, both direct and indirect, on the healthcare delivery landscape in India. We show that while their direct impact is significant, their indirect impact could potentially transform healthcare delivery in India and in other developing countries.

Abstract

The leading frameworks of internationalization have contributed significantly to our knowledge of how firms internationalize, but do not fully explain how firms actually create and capture value from customers when internationalizing their activities. Understanding the value creation and capture activities defining their business model(s) is critical for firms moving into less familiar markets, and is particularly relevant for service firms where variability is an inherent feature of the firm/client experience. To address this gap, we take a business model perspective to analyze 144 internationalization events of 10 professional service firms. We find that the case firms adopted four different business models when internationalizing, and that single firms may utilize portfolios of business models. Our findings contribute to both the services internationalization and business model literatures by showing how variability in the internationalization process substantiates the need for business model portfolios.

Abstract

What makes firms innovate their business models? Why do they engage in innovating how they create, deliver, and capture value? And how does such innovation translate into innovation performance? Despite the importance of business model innovation for achieving competitive advantage, existing evidence seems to be confined to firm-level antecedents and pays little attention to the impact of industry structure. This study investigates how different stages of an industry’s life cycle and levels of industry competition affect firms’ business model innovation, and how such innovation translates into innovation performance. Based on a cross-industry sample of 1,242 Austrian firms, we introduce a unique measure for the degree of innovation in a firm’s business model. The results indicate that the degree of business model innovation is highest toward the beginning of an industry life cycle, that is, in the emergent stage. Competitive industry pressures turn out to be negatively related to the degree of business model innovation. Moreover, we find that the degree of a firm’s business model innovation, conditional on it having introduced a new product or process recently, positively influences innovation performance. Our findings contribute to the ongoing dialog on the role of industry structure in business model innovation, and provide implications for the management of business model innovation.

Abstract

We study the decision-making process behind business model change, focusing specifically on the tactics managers employ to gain support for such changes. We first argue for the prominent role of middle management in business model change, and second, we revisit the literature on issue selling and championing as they may apply to business model change decision-making. We subsequently analyze the case of a business model change initiative in the Dutch water authority sector, revealing two specific tactics that middle management employed to obtain top management’s agreement to business model change: leveraging external agreements and continuously informing top management. We discuss how these findings extend and in some ways suggest a rethink of the literature on organizational change. Finally, we describe the specificities of business model change that distinguish it from other types of change. In sum, this paper demonstrates the interest of research at the nexus of business models and organizational change.

About the Authors

Pages 421-425
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Cover of Business Models and Modelling
DOI
10.1108/S0742-3322201533
Publication date
2015-10-27
Book series
Advances in Strategic Management
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78560-463-8
eISBN
978-1-78560-462-1
Book series ISSN
0742-3322