Sustainable business model innovation (SBMI) is a change in the way a firm operates in order to create positive impacts or to reduce negative consequences for the environment and the society. The aim of this paper is to explain what pathways a firm can take when it implements a sustainable business innovation process in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The article starts with the analysis of the existing literature about BMI and SBMI in order to extrapolate the main elements of these topics.
Thanks to the combined information from academic and nonacademic sources, the study proposes a new framework. It is divided into three sectors: value proposition, value capture delivery and value capture according to the main studies about the business model.
Regarding theoretical implications, this study contributes to developing a theory of both BMI and sustainable innovation. Indeed it helps in the understanding of the dynamic vision about how the business model changes in order to incorporate triple sustainability.
From a practical view, the paper can serve as a guideline for corporate reorganization.
The new framework differs from some recent academic efforts first of all for its theoretical characteristics: BMI construct and not business model concept is the core of the framework. The business model represents the subject of innovation, not its vehicle. Another unique aspect that can be derived from the approach adopted is that it links theoretical with practical sources.
Business model innovation is a widely known topic and one of the most recurring keywords in managerial studies. It deals with a new way to do business aiming at prosperity in a dynamic environment through the reconceptualization of the underlying logic behind the value creation, capture and delivery (Richardson, 2008; Teece, 2010).
Firms increasingly need to innovate by modifying their business model by initiating changes, improvements and replacements in various organizational elements (Mitchell & Coles, 2003). It is relevant to understand these elements to facilitate the analysis of organizational processes and planning of transformation from one business model to another and to increase the firm’s resilience and the probability of success (Geissdoerfer, Vladimirova, & Evans, 2018).
Discussion and conclusion
Subject-matter experts consider the SBMI a complex process that changes the core elements of the firm’s logic to create new value for all their stakeholders.
The radicality of organizational change makes the adoption of a sustainable orientation easier for new entrants (start-up) and riskier for incumbents – the existing companies that have been operating their business for a long time. Indeed, the start-up does not transform an existing business model but creates new ones without a history to respect or a tradition to maintain. At the same time, incumbents’ firms must start revising their current business model. The ambiguity of the situation also can bring uncertainty.