Business Model Experimentation for Sustainability

  • Nancy M. P. Bocken
  • Ilka Weissbrod
  • Mike Tennant
Conference paper
Part of the Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies book series (SIST, volume 52)

Abstract

Business experimentation is a key avenue for accelerating change for sustainability. In contrast to experimentation in natural sciences, benefitting from controlled situations, business experimentation aims to explore the diverse possibilities that a business could create value from, or understand what works in which particular situations in a real life business context. While at present most popular with start-ups, this paper argues that large businesses can also find inspiration in business experimentation to develop sustainable business models and accelerate positive change for sustainability. Five illustrative cases are included of business experimentation for sustainability by focusing on pivots (modifications) in the business model. This paper only scratches the surface of the potential impactful new research field of business (model) experimentation for sustainability. Future work on sustainable business experimentation for start-ups and mature businesses is viewed as a powerful future research avenue to accelerate change in industries.

Keywords

Business experimentation Lean start up Corporate sustainability Radical innovation Disruptive innovation Sustainable entrepreneurship 

References

  1. 1.
    IPCC.: Summary for policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014, Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B.), Geneva, Switzerland (2014)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bocken, N., Short, S.: Towards a sufficiency-driven business model: Experiences and opportunities. Environ. Innov. Soc. Trans. doi:10.1016/j.eist.2015.07.010 (in press)
  3. 3.
    Andries, P., Debackere, K., Van Looy, B.: Simultaneous experimentation as a learning strategy: Business model development under uncertainty. Strateg. Entrep. J. 7, 288–310 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Weissbrod, I., Bocken, N.M.P.: Sustainable business experimentation capability—an in-depth case. In: Conference Proceedings of Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference, Sitges, Barcelona, 1–4 November 2015Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Stubbs, W., Cocklin, C.: Conceptualizing a ‘sustainability business model’. Organ. Environ. 21(2), 103–127 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Boons, F., Lüdeke-Freund, F.: Business models for sustainable innovation. State-of-the-art and steps towards a research agenda. J. Clean. Prod. 45, 9–19 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bocken, N.M.P., Short, S.W., Rana, P., Evans, S.: A value mapping tool for sustainable business modelling. Corp. Gov. 13, 482–497 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Magretta, J.: Why Business Models Matter. Harvard Bus. Rev. 80(5), 86–92 (2002)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Short, S., Bocken, N., Barlow, C., Chertow, M.: From refining sugar to growing tomatoes. Industrial ecology and business model evolution. J. Ind. Ecol. 18(5), 603–618 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lüdeke-Freund, F.: Towards a conceptual framework of business models for sustainability. In: ERSCP-EMU Conference, Delft, The Netherlands (pp. 1–28) (2010)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bocken, N.M.P., Rana, P., Short, S.W.: Value mapping for sustainable business thinking. J. Ind. Prod. Eng. 32(1), 67–81 (2015)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Beltramello, A., Haie-Fayle, L., Pilat, D.: Why new business models matter for green growth. In: OECD Green Growth Papers. OECD Publishing, Paris (2013)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Yunus, M., Moingeon, B., Lehmann-Ortega, L.: Building social business models: Lessons from the Grameen experience. Long Range Plan. 43(2–3), 308–325 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wells, P., Seitz, M.: Business models and closed-loop supply chains: a typology. Supply Chain Manage. Int. J. 10(3–4), 249–251 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bocken, N., Short, S.W., Rana, P., Evans, S.: A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes. J. Clean. Prod. 65, 42–56 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Blank, S.: The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win. K&S Ranch Publishing (2013) (1st edn. 2005)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ries, E.: The lean startup: How today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses. Penguin Books, London (2011)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sanderson, I.: Making sense of ‘what works’: evidence based policy making as instrumental rationality? Publ. Policy. Adm. Autumn 17, 61–75 (2002)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Osterwalder, A., Pigneur, Y., Bernada, G., Smith, A.: Value Design Proposition. How to Create Products and Services Customers Want. Wiley, Hoboken (2014)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Schaltegger, S., Hansen, E., Lüdeke-Freund, F.: Business models for sustainability: Origins, present research, and future avenues. Org. Environ. (2016). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1086026615599806 (online first)
  21. 21.
    Upward, A., Jones, P.: An ontology for strongly sustainable business models: defining an enterprise framework compatible with natural and social science. Org. Environ. (2016). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1086026615592933 (online first)
  22. 22.
    Clinton, L., Whisnant, R.: Model Behavior—20 Business Model Innovations for Sustainability. SustainAbility, London (2014)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kiron, D., Kruschwitz, N., Haanaes, K., Reeves, M., Goh, E.: The Innovation Bottom Line. MIT Sloan Management Review Research Report Winter. MIT-SMR and The Boston Consulting Group, Cambridge (2013)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bocken, N.: Sustainable venture capital—catalyst for sustainable start-up success? J. Clean. Prod. Part A 108, 647–658 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Yin, R.: Case Study Research. Design and Methods, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand Oaks (1994)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Gazelle: Our story. Available at: https://www.gazelle.com/our_story. Accessed 21 Oct 2015
  27. 27.
    Makower, J.: Two steps forward. One year later, Yerdle’s founders share their insights on sharing. GreenBiz. Available at: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/11/25/yerdle-cofounders-share-insights-sharing, 25 Nov 2013. Accessed 21 Oct 2015
  28. 28.
    Aster, N.: Yerdle’s critics miss the point. Triple pundit. Available at: http://www.triplepundit.com/special/rise-of-the-sharing-economy/yerdles-critics-missing-point/ (2014). Accessed 27 Oct 2015
  29. 29.
    MudJeans: About. Available at: http://www.mudjeans.eu/about/ (2015). Accessed 21 Oct 2015
  30. 30.
    Bugaboo: About. Available at: https://www.bugaboo.com/NL/en_NL/about (2015a). Accessed 21 Oct 2015
  31. 31.
    Bugaboo: Flexplan. Available at: https://www.bugaboo.com/NL/en_NL/strollers/bugabooflexplan (2015b). Accessed 21 Oct 2015

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy M. P. Bocken
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ilka Weissbrod
    • 3
  • Mike Tennant
    • 3
  1. 1.Industrial Design EngineeringDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Institute for Manufacturing, Department of EngineeringUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Centre for Environmental Policy, Faculty of Natural SciencesImperial College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations