Business Models for Sustainability

Business Models for Sustainability

Peter E. Wells

With increasing awareness that innovative technology alone is insufficient to make sustainable lifestyles a reality, this book brings into sharp focus the need to create radical new business models. This insightful book provides a theoretically grounded but also realistic account of how the design of business models can be a critical component in the overall transition to sustainability, and one that transcends the usual focus on innovative technology.

Chapter 2: Business models: a broad perspective

Peter E. Wells

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, strategic management


This chapter introduces the concept of business models, and how they may be defined and understood. In so doing this chapter owes a significant debt to the contribution of Teece (2010), whose ideas and analysis are taken as a point of departure for much that follows. Since the so-called era of the 1990s the term ‘business model’ has increasingly entered into the language of business discourse and analysis, as a shorthand way of saying ‘the way a company is structured to do business’. As such, it is a vague and general term, perhaps too imprecise to be of investigative use, although in recent years several interesting attempts have been made to formulate more precisely what constitutes a business model and how it might be measured and evaluated. It is recognised that for some the business model is little different to strategy, though as this and later chapters show it is possible for two businesses to have similar business models but different strategies. The perspective taken in this book is that business models are useful means of simplifying the complexity of business in order to make it understandable, even at the cost of some accuracy. Business models in this sense are an abstraction, but are also a tool for discourse as much as an empirical methodology; they are a way of thinking about the world and of helping us categorise businesses to see their similarities and differences.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information