Exploring the Coevolution of Traditional and Sustainable Business Models: A Paradox Perspective

Niklas Endregat and Bartjan Pennink

Keywords

Traditional business models, sustainable business models, coevolution, paradox lens, sustainability


Abstract

Purpose: This paper rectifies a dearth in current research and investigates the coevolution of traditional and sustainable business models under one corporate roof. By taking on a paradox perspective, firms’ solutions, and mechanisms to cope with the paradoxical tensions that arise throughout the coevolution are determined and analyzed.

Design/Methodology/Implications: This is executed by conducting seven case studies of Western-European firms, consulting firms, and governmentally-owned consulting institutions.

Findings: Findings display the array of responses firms deploy to address paradoxical areas of competing demands of economic, social, and environmental foci, organizational culture and mindset, training and staffing, resource allocation, and the stakeholder environment during the coevolution of traditional and sustainable business models. Furthermore, four coping strategies firms utilize are derived from the data, namely splitters, operational perfectionists, strategic mandators, and transformers.

Research limitations: All cases under investigation resemble Western-European firms, which limits the generalizability of the findings at hand. Furthermore, the sample size and the mixed industries cases have been selected from stipulate a limitation.

Practical implications: This paper outlines four pathways firms deploy to address paradoxical tensions arising during the coevolution of traditional and sustainable business models under one corporate roof.

Originality/Value: This study contributes to the discussion related to the integration of traditional and sustainable business model research, as it sheds light onto a previously largely unresearched phenomenon: a situation where both business models coevolve under one corporate roof. Utilizing the paradox view as a theoretical lens, underlying dynamics and arrays of solutions are uncovered.


Top