Concepts travelling across disciplinary fields: the case of the business model

  • Laura Girella
  • Roberto Tizzano
  • Elisa Rita Ferrari


Since the beginning of the 2000s, the concept of Business Model has been explored by scholars from a broad range of business studies and particularly those in the strategic arena. In the last few years, this interest has also been echoed by accounting and management scholars, professionals, standard setters as well as organisations operating more widely in the corporate reporting field worldwide. Despite this extensive attention from academic, professional and institutional fields, it is still not entirely clear what drivers have led to this concept being espoused by such varied fields of research and action, and what implications can be derived from this. Moving from this standpoint, the paper intends to examine the processes and actors that have accompanied the Business Model in its ‘journey’ from the strategy field to the financial and non-financial reporting fields in order to reveal the similarities and differences that characterise the (disciplinary) attitudes towards the adoption of this concept in these three fields. Accordingly, it provides evidence on the extent to which these three disciplines have to be conceived as static or as subject to continuous change. Drawing on the sociological theory of structuration (Giddens in The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1984) applied to disciplinary territories conceived of as social systems, we undertake an in-depth analysis of the articles published in strategy on Business Model as well as the documents released by the International Accounting Standards Board when it formulated the International Financial Reporting Standard 9 and by the International Integrated Reporting Council with respect to the preparation of the International <IR> Framework. Our findings support the view that the three arenas have reacted to the adoption of this concept differently, even though some analogies can be observed. Accordingly, the paper intends to contribute to the financial, non-financial reporting and business model literatures and practices, by highlighting the ways in which this concept has entered varied domains of research and action and the extent to which this adoption has affected the foundations and the ‘functioning’ (Bourdieu in Regards Sociol 17(18):5–27, 1999) of these fields.


Business model Structuration theory Strategy Non-(financial) reporting Accounting 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC)LondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Economics and StatisticsUniversity of Naples “Federico II”NaplesItaly
  3. 3.Faculty of Economics and LawKore University of Enna, Cittadella UniversitariaEnnaItaly

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