What is it about?

------------------------ Research Focus ------------------------ In this perspective piece, we broaden understanding of business model innovation (BMI) by deepening extant dimensions and positions in the literature. While a significant amount of research has been carried out, it does not fully capture the diversity and implications of BMI. We address this lack of common ground by developing an organizing framework for BMI research. Our work expands and further details the conceptualization of BMI and provides orientation for managers and scholars in the field.

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Why is it important?

------------------------------------------------------- Contribution to Academic Scholarship ------------------------------------------------------- We propose an organizing framework for BMI that clarifies primary theoretical considerations and specifies knowledge gaps in the extant managerial practice and scholarly literature. We constructed the framework from the topical identification of valid and useful theoretical approaches to BMI research, unveiling implicit pathways and processes that merit further empirical investigation. While BMI has become an important topic in business research and practice, the current theory does not converge into a cumulative baseline, and positioning choices of scholars vary substantially. The recognition and organization of salient BMI perspectives help reconsider default assumptions, broaden understanding of central BMI elements and relationships in managerial contexts, and develop avenues for future inquiry The framework reveals salient perspectives on BMI, provides profound insights for managers and suggests positioning choices for future BMI studies. It integrates strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship as three central research axes informing research on BMI, and it specifies theoretical lenses in each resultant research dimension. By analytically comparing the theoretical positions of selected studies within and across the resultant constituent axes of strategy and innovation (S&I), strategy and entrepreneurship (S&E), and innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E), we show the importance of choosing theoretical lenses and reference fields for providing new insights within managerial practice and the diverse BMI streams in scholarly research. The framework expands and deepens extant works on the rapidly growing impact of BMI in business practice, and it maps theoretical positions and perspectives within its conceptual landscape, displaying pathways for further inquiry. ------------------------------------------------------- Contribution to Management Practice ------------------------------------------------------- Our resultant framework shows how BMI is understood in various ways in managerial thinking and practice. The framework guides managers aiming to innovate existing or develop new business models in their firms. The three axes of strategy and innovation (S&I), strategy and entrepreneurship (S&E), and innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) summarize the decisions options that managers can draw from to address the BMI challenge and to transform the value offer of their firms successfully. Moreover, by discussing the boundary-spanning aspect in BMI, we clarify the BM's operationalization as an analytic device for innovation managers. To enhance the BM's methodological function as analytic unit in corporate BMI processes, we specify its distinct properties inherent in micro-level, meso-level, and macro-level approaches. The BM concept's boundary-spanning nature leads to considerable flexibility for managers to interpret real-life phenomena in the light of different perspectives. Finally, we provide a coherent mapping by describing the scope of managerial positioning choices for BMI. Our overview of BMI lenses extends conceptualizations in business practice and provides avenues for further investigation. Our framework clarifies and integrates common concerns in the debate that theory and practice for BMI overlaps with established frameworks from strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We provide supporting arguments for the usefulness of BM as a logical analytic unit to inquire BMI processes in business practices that vary according to the selected perspective. We complement and substantiate the understanding of BMI as a flexible and multi-faceted tool for innovation in firms and industries.


BMI is a multi-dimensional and multi-level concept, making it a tricky subject for managerial practice and scholarly theory. Our organizing framework for BMI reflects important intellectual traditions that shape the field's predominant practices and research orientations. We systematically identify knowledge gaps providing opportunities to improve BMI practices in firms and provide future research avenues.

Associate Professor Dirk Schneckenberg
ESC Rennes School of Business

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This page is a summary of: Theorizing business model innovation: an organizing framework of research dimensions and future perspectives, R and D Management, October 2021, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/radm.12506.
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