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Business Model Change in German Research Museums: Resource Dependence and Political Pressures



This study sheds light on the complex relations between the provision of critical resources, the impact of overarching networks, and the ability to set and negotiate agendas. Specifically, we examine how the research museums in the German Leibniz Association pursue business model change whilst balancing potentially conflicting logics and pressures exerted by diverse stakeholder groups. Based on a longitudinal content analysis of secondary data, we show that varying emphases on cultural and economic logics increase the content of the activities included in the museums’ business models over time. Political pressures and resource scarcity drive changes in activity structure and governance. They lead to power imbalances and an increasing need for the demonstration of value creation. The implications of these findings are discussed.
How do museums pursue business model change
whilst balancing potentially conflicting pressures?
Business Model Change in German Research Museums:
Resource Dependence and Political Pressures
What´s new? So what?
Carolin Decker, Noëlle Singer, and Florian Schrader
EGOS 2016, Naples (Italy)
Resource scarcity
Political forces
Powerful stakeholders
Critical incidents: political changes, construction
and renovation, executive succession events
Need for business
model change
Business models
(Zott & Amit, 2010)
Cultural and economic logics
(Eikhof & Haunschild, 2007)
Cultural value
(Townley et al., 2009)
Qualitative content analysis
(Kuckartz, 2010)
Constraints imposed by external
stakeholders and political
circumstances under which
museums make decisions regarding
business model change
Non-profit and symbol-intensive
organizations in the cultural sector
Resource Dependence
Data Tools
Multiple case study: eight
research museums in the
Leibniz Association in
Period: 1979-2014
Data sources: annual
reports, evaluations of the
Leibniz Senate, websites,
chronicles, press releases
Powerful stakeholders
with evolving interests
Exemplary case for the application of resource dependence theory
Resource scarcity and powerful external stakeholders controlling critical resources
Differences in the success of the museums’ strategies for coping with these challenges
Cultural and economic logics as complements
Intervening political logic emphasizing organizational legitimacy
... A less prolific, but promising discussion relates to hybrid business models that blend business models' dominant commercial market logics with the ones of other societal-level institutional logics (Friedland & Alford, 1991), such as family business models (Adendorff, 2004;Chirico, 2007;Rau, 2013); cross-sector partnership models (Pedersen, Lüdeke-Freund, Henriques, & Seitanidi, 2018); and faith-based business models (Beck, Demirgüç-Kunt, & Merrouche, 2013;Fry, Matherly, & Ouimet, 2010). Finally, alternative business models also include the application of business model's underlying concept of organizational value logics in noncommercial contexts (Laasch, 2018b), such as higher education (Randles & Laasch, 2016;Sobirin, 2007); government and public service (Janssen & Kuk, 2007;Kindig & Isham, 2014;Osborne, Radnor, Vidal, & Kinder, 2014); even museums (Decker-Lange, Singer, & Schrader, 2016); and churches (Warf & Winsberg, 2010). ...
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We are witnessing the emerging study of business models through sociological lenses. Such research has been conducted, for instance, through the lenses of economic sociology, organizational institutionalism, and theories of practice. This brief positioning paper provides an overview of emergent discussions and suggests promising future discussions. While we focus on applications to the phenomenon of alternative business models, we suggest sociological lenses also hold great promise for studying mainstream business models. The main purpose and aspirational contribution of this paper is to provide a stepping stone for the emergence of business model sociology, a new stream of business model research drawing from the rich conceptual and methodological repertoire of sociology.
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