The full conceptual paper and further related publications are available at SSRN: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1411470
An open reference list of publications on business models and sustainability issues is available here: http://literature.SSBMG.com
This dissertation deals with the relationships between business models, sustainability innovations, and the business case for sustainability. Its main purpose is to define theoretical and conceptual interrelations between these concepts. According theoretical foundations are developed and combined with empirical studies on the solar photovoltaic industry. This industry is particularly suitable for this kind of research because of its increasing maturity paired with public policy and market dynamics that lead to a variety of business model challenges. The overarching research question is: How can business models support the commercialisation of sustainability innovations and thus contribute to business cases for sustainability?
Theoretical and conceptual foundations are developed from a systematic literature review on the role of business models for technological, organisational, and social sustainability innovations. Further, business model innovation is linked to sustainability strategies and the business case for sustainability. These foundations are applied in an in-depth case study on BP Solar. Moreover, because supportive public policies and the availability of financial capital are important preconditions for commercial success with solar innovations, the dissertation contains a comparative public policy study as well as a conjoint experiment to explore debt capital investors’ preferences for different photovoltaic business models.
The main contribution of this work is the “Business Models for Sustainability Innovation” (BMfSI) framework. It is based on the idea that business models are artificial and social constructs that fulfil different functions based on social interaction and their deliberate construction. The framework emphasises the mediating function, i.e. the iterative alignment of business model elements with company-internal and external factors as well as with the characteristics of environmentally and socially beneficial innovations.