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Sustainable Business Model Pattern Language – 45 Patterns to Support Sustainability-Oriented Business Model Innovation

Authors:

Abstract

The purpose of this research project is to consolidate the currently available knowledge about business model patterns that have the potential to support solutions to ecological and social problems, such as greener products, new mobility systems, or social enterprises. This consolidation will lead to a new pattern taxonomy that can be used to support sustainable business model innovation and sustainability innovations. In recent years, the value of using patterns to support business model development has been increasingly recognized and discussed in both research and practice. Already in Business Model Generation, Osterwalder and Pigneur describe five business model patterns using the Business Model Canvas in an attempt to create a shared language similar to Alexander’s pattern language. The use of patterns for sustainable business models is yet to be explored. This project intends to help close this gap. To identify such patterns the first step was to review 14 studies proposing a total of 102 potential SBM patterns. By deleting doublets and candidates that did not fully qualify as patterns in the sense of contextualised problem-solution combinations, we systematically identified a reduced set of 45 patterns ranging from eco-designed products and processes to social freemium models. In the second step, we used Alexander’s pattern template to describe these business model patterns in a consistent way. The third step involved a Delphi survey combined with a physical card-sorting method to arrange the 45 patterns in consistent and meaningful groups. Based on this expert consensus, we will set up the final SBM pattern taxonomy.
NBM@Graz2017 47
A Sustainable Business Model Pattern
Language:
45 Patterns to Support Sustainability-
Oriented Business Model Innovation
Florian Lüdeke-Freund1,*,+, Sarah Carroux1, Alexandre Joyce2,
Lorenzo Massa3, Henning Breuer4
1University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany; 2DesjardinsLAB and Institut de
Développement de Produits, Montreal, Canada; 3Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale
de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; 4HMKW Berlin & UX Berlin Innovation
Consulting, Berlin, Germany
*florian.luedeke-freund@wiso.uni-hamburg.de
+Supported by Centre for Sustainability Management, Leuphana University, Germany and Copenhagen Business
School, Copenhagen, Denmark
Keywords
Sustainable Business Model Innovation, Pattern Theory, Delphi Survey, Business Model
Taxonomy
Extended abstract
The purpose of this research project is to consolidate the currently available knowledge
about so-called business model patterns (Gassmann et al., 2014; Remane et al., 2017) that
have the potential to support solutions to ecological and social problems, such as greener
products, new mobility systems, or social enterprises (Short et al., 2012; Clinton & Whisnant,
2014). This consolidation will lead to a new pattern taxonomy (Lambert, 2015) that can be
used to support sustainable business model innovation (SBMI) and sustainability innovation
(Boons & Lüdeke-Freund, 2013).
In recent years, the value of using patterns to support business model development has
been increasingly recognized and discussed in both research and practice. Already in
Business Model Generation (2009), Osterwalder and Pigneur describe five business model
patterns using the Business Model Canvas in an attempt to create a shared language similar
to Alexander’s pattern language (Alexander et al., 1977; Leitner, 2015). Gassmann et al.
(2014) identified 55 business model patterns as the basis for most business models that have
been created over the last decades. And recently, Remane et al. (2017) consolidated current
knowledge of conventional business model patterns into a database that can be used to
NBM@Graz2017 48
support business model innovation. The use of patterns for sustainable business models is
yet to be explored. This project intends to help close this gap.
To start with, we define the notion of sustainable business model pattern as follows: A
sustainable business model pattern captures the similarities of sustainable business models
that are repeatedly followed, i.e. similarities in terms of business model design principles,
elements, and their arrangements. In doing so, a sustainable business model pattern
illustrates an ecological, social, and/or economic problem that arises regularly when creating
business cases for sustainability and describes the core of a solution that can be repeatedly
applied in different ways. A sustainable business model pattern can either describe a
complete business model or just a partial model (e.g. the financing model of a business
model).
To identify such patterns the first step was to review 14 studies proposing a total of 102
potential SBM patterns. By deleting doublets and candidates that did not fully qualify as
patterns in the sense of contextualised problem-solution combinations, we systematically
identified a reduced set of 45 patterns ranging from eco-designed products and processes to
social freemium models. In the second step, we used Alexander’s pattern template to
describe these business model patterns in a consistent way. The third, currently ongoing
step involves a Delphi survey combined with a physical card-sorting method (Paul, 2008) to
arrange the 45 patterns in consistent and meaningful groups. This is necessary to develop a
rigorous and relevant pattern taxonomy. Ten international experts from academia and
business take part in our Delphi survey. We propose 12 initial groups to these experts and
ask them to organise the patterns into these 12 groups to obtain a shared expert opinion on
how to best classify the patterns. Once consensus emerges regarding the grouping of SBM
patterns, we will set up the final SBM pattern taxonomy.
The Delphi-based card-sorting is currently going on (as of March 2017). Its results and
the first draft of our Sustainable Business Model Pattern Language will be presented at the
2nd New Business Models Conference in Graz.
References
Alexander, C.; Ishikawa, S.; Silverstein, M.; Jacobson, M.; Fiksdahl-King, I. & Angel, S. (1977):
A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Cambridge: Oxford University
Press.
Boons, F. & Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2013): Business models for sustainable innovation: state-of-
the-art and steps towards a research agenda, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 45,
919.
NBM@Graz2017 49
Clinton, L. & Whisnant, R. (2014): Model Behavior 20 Business Model Innovations for
Sustainability. London: SustainAbility.
Gassmann, O.; Frankenberger, K. & Csik, M. (2014): The business model navigator. 55
models that will revolutionise your business: Pearson Education Limited.
Lambert, S. (2015): The Importance of Classification to Business Model Research, Journal of
Business Models, Vol. 3, No. 1, 4961.
Leitner, H. (2015): Pattern Theory - Introduction and Perspectives on the Tracks of
Christopher Alexander. Graz: HLS.
Osterwalder, A. & Pigneur, Y. (2009): Business model generation. A handbook for visionaries,
game changers, and challengers. Amsterdam: self-published.
Paul., C. (2008): A Modified Delphi Approach to a New Card Sorting Methodology, Journal of
Usability Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, 730.
Remane, G.; Hanelt, A.; Tesch, J. & Kolbe, L. (2017): The Business Model Pattern Database
A Tool for Systematic Business Model Innovation, International Journal of Innovation
Management, Vol. 21, No. 01, Article No. 1750004.
Short, S.; Bocken, N.; Rana, P. & Evans, S. (2012): Business model innovation for embedding
sustainability: A practice-based approach introducing business model archetypes,
Proceedings of the 10th global conference on sustainable manufacturing (GCSM)
“Towards implementing sustainable manufacturing”, Istanbul, 31 Oct. to 2 Nov. 2012.
... For instance, a study showed that in 2005, only 6% of waste materials were recycled at the global level, with the remainder were incinerated, landfilled, or dispersed into the environment ( Haas et al., 2005); a recent report supports this argument stating that the world is only 9% circular today (Circle Economy, 2019). While governments have been argued to hold pivotal roles in building a vision and steering market actors towards a CE and also academics may play a role in furthering the transition towards a CE ( Kirchherr and Piscicelli, 2019), the role that the private sector can play has been particularly highlighted in recent years (Accenture, 2014;Lieder and Rashid, 2016;Lüdeke-Freund et al., 2018;Urbinati et al., 2017;Antikainen et al., 2017). Indeed, changes in business models are considered by many scholars as a key enabler for the shift from a linear to a CE (van Renswoude et al., 2015;Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2012;McKinsey and Co. 2015;Ghisellini et al., 2016;Bocken et al., 2016;Lewandowski, 2016). ...
... In line with previous developments of the business model literature (Beattie and Smith, 2013;Osterwalder et al., 2010Osterwalder et al., , 2005Richardson, 2008), Bocken et al. (2014) highlight three main elements composing sustainable business models: the value proposition (i.e. the offer and the target customer segments), the value creation and delivery (i.e. the activities, resources, partners and distribution channels), and the value capture (i.e. the cost structure and the revenue model). Accordingly, a sustainable business model (SBM), when appropriately designed, should create, deliver, and capture economic value while simultaneously contributing to environmental and/or social sustainability (Boons and Lüdeke- Freund, 2013;Lüdeke-Freund et al., 2018;Schaltegger et al., 2016). ...
... The overlap of CBMs with SBMs may lead some authors to see the former as a subset of the latter (e.g. Bocken et al., 2014;Lüdeke- Freund et al., 2018). However, the authors of this paper disagree because, as noted by Pieroni et al. (2019), SBMs can also generate unsustainable effects if design options for CE are only partially in place (e.g. ...
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The business model navigator. 55 models that will revolutionise your business
  • O Gassmann
  • K Frankenberger
  • M Csik
Gassmann, O.; Frankenberger, K. & Csik, M. (2014): The business model navigator. 55 models that will revolutionise your business: Pearson Education Limited.
Pattern Theory-Introduction and Perspectives on the Tracks of Christopher Alexander
  • H Leitner
Leitner, H. (2015): Pattern Theory-Introduction and Perspectives on the Tracks of Christopher Alexander. Graz: HLS.
Business model innovation for embedding sustainability: A practice-based approach introducing business model archetypes
  • S Short
  • N Bocken
  • P Rana
  • S Evans
Short, S.; Bocken, N.; Rana, P. & Evans, S. (2012): Business model innovation for embedding sustainability: A practice-based approach introducing business model archetypes, Proceedings of the 10 th global conference on sustainable manufacturing (GCSM) "Towards implementing sustainable manufacturing", Istanbul, 31 Oct. to 2 Nov. 2012.