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Sustainable Value Creation Through Business Models: The What, the Who and the How

Published: 02.02.2021

by Florian Lüdeke-Freund , Romana Rauter , Esben Rahbek Gjerdrum Pedersen , Christian Nielsen


Purpose: We discuss traditional assumptions about value creation and confront these with current views on sustainable value creation (SVC). Against this backdrop, the articles contained in the special issue ‘Sustainable Value Creation Through Business Models’ are introduced, and their contributions to the exploration of SVC are highlighted.

Methodology: Assumptions about value creation are summarised and turned into an initial theoretical framework concerning the what, who and how of value creation. This framework is used to structure and discuss current views on SVC that have been presented in the sustainable business model (SBM) litterature.

Findings: The proposed framework identifies cornerstones for theorising about SVC in regard to the what, who and how of value creation. A main finding is that, although value creation and SVC are widely discussed in the literature, there are huge gaps in terms of the who, what and how of value creation, particularly in the SBM field.

Research implications and limitations: The major implication is that the SBM discourse still lacks clear SVC concepts, and closing this gap may enable the creation of a new multi- and interdisciplinary research programme. A major limitation of this paper is the mainly theoretical and preliminary nature of the presented discussion and framework.

Originality and value: There is a surprising dearth of definitions and concepts of value creation in both the traditional business model and SBM research. The originality and value of this paper lie in its potential to stimulate further research on the theoretical foundations of SVC. Various theoretical propositions are developed, including notions such as stakeholder-responsive and relational interpretations of value creation

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Length: 29 pages


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