Session Track 2

“New business models, sustainable development, and corporate strategic management”

Chairs: Romana Rauter, Yuliya Snihur, and Christian Nielsen

Sustainable business models are intensively discussed as a means to foster a necessary transition towards more sustainable societies. On the one hand, a multitude of examples of business models with a sustainable core, like circular business models and asset-sharing business models, exist. On the other hand, there are also many examples of “regular” business models that are being tuned towards higher levels of sustainability, for example through the use of partnerships, or other resource-minimizing choices.

The successful transition towards more sustainable businesses is dependent upon a number of factors. Amongst them, we highlight the relevance of two factors from a corporate management perspective: a) the content-based dimension referring to the inclusion of sustainability goals in corporate strategy; and b) the time dimension referring to the timeline of implementation of these goals, including questions about scalability and longevity. Both factors relate to strategic management issues, including a future vision of success as seen from the management perspective, potentially offering a “set of guidelines that determines decisions into the future” (Mintzberg, 1978: 935).

The corporate strategy decision to invest in a more sustainable business version of the existing business model(s), or to develop new sustainable business models from ground up, is a complex matter. Our point is that building sustainable and scalable business models rests upon strategic management decision-making within the firm, as does the subsequent management of the business model portfolio.

Therefore, descriptive as well as explanatory contributions that specifically, but not exclusively, deal with the following topics are invited:

  • Which insights can be gained from the established concepts of strategic management and how can these be used for the development, implementation and improvement of new sustainable business models?
  • How do corporate strategic management and sustainability strategies influence the design and management of new sustainable business models?
  • How does sustainability and scalability contribute to the business model innovation processes?
  • From the perspective of strategic management, what are the barriers and enablers of success in the implementation of new sustainable business models from ground up versus the more incremental “sustainable-improvement” of existing business models approach?

Theoretical and conceptual contributions as well as empirical insights from various contexts are welcome. The focus, however, lies more on rather established corporations such as large multinational corporations, SMEs, or public organisations, rather than on entrepreneurs and start-ups.


Selected References

Baumgartner, R.J. and Rauter, R. (2017). Strategic perspectives of corporate sustainability management to develop a sustainable organization. Journal of Cleaner Production, 140, 81-92.

Dentchev, N., Rauter, R., Jóhannsdóttir, L., Snihur, Y., Rosano, M., Baumgartner, R., Nyberg, T., Tangh, X., van Hoof, B. & Jonker, J. (2018). Embracing the variety of sustainable business models: A prolific field of research and a future research agenda. Journal of Cleaner Production, 194(1), 695-703.

Nielsen, C. and Lund, M. (2018). Building Scalable Business Models. MIT Sloan Management Review, 59(2), 64-69.

Mintzberg, H. (1978). Patterns in Strategy Formation. Management Science, 24(9), 934-948.

Snihur, Y. and Tarzijan, J. (2018). Managing complexity in a multi-business-model organization. Long Range Planning, 51(1), 50-63.

Snihur Y. and Wiklund, J. Searching for Innovation: Product, Process, and Business Model Innovations and Search Behavior in Established Firms. Long Range Planning (accepted for publication).