Towards a Taxonomy of Green Business Models

  • Axel Sommer
Part of the Sustainable Production, Life Cycle Engineering and Management book series (SPLCEM)


As management science still lacks a universally accepted definition of business models it comes at no surprise that theoretical research on green business models is virtually non-existent at this point in time.

First attempts to conceptualise “sustainable business models” or “business models for sustainability” have been made (Stubbs & Cocklin 2008; Lüdeke-Freund 2009). However, a robust body of research on sustainable business models – let alone with an environmental focus – is not yet available. As this work attempts to provide managers with a practical methodology to manage Green Business Model Transformations, the question what actually distinguishes green from non-green business models has to be answered first. In addition to providing a theoretical, abstract distinction, means to recognise green business models in the real world need to be developed as well. This can also help to objectify discussions about greenwashing which is likely to continue to play a role in the coming years. A generally applicable approach to identifying green business models is thereby a worthwhile research question in its own right. However, the aim of this chapter is to start a discourse on the topic, rather than to conclude it. As will be demonstrated in the following, a taxonomy for green business models raises a number of theoretical and practical challenges whose resolution requires contributions that vastly exceed the scope of this work, including but not limited to improved methods for measuring and comparing environmental impacts as well as industry-specific examinations.


Environmental Impact Business Model Wind Turbine Reference Case Incremental Improvement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Sustainability, Management (CSM)Leuphana University LüneburgLüneburgGermany

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