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 5: Case study sectors for business models for sustainability

Peter E. Wells

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

Extract

This chapter provides five case studies of business models for sustain- ability. They are not case studies in the traditional sense of being about one single firm. Rather each case study is a vignette of innovation in a particular sector, examined through a template that allows cross-case study comparisons to be made. These are then semi-ideal types rather than cohesive case studies of a single entity. In part this is due to the proposition that academic business research, which is traditionally backward-facing in the sense that it is enumerated through the study of phenomena that have occurred already, needs to be more forward-facing and even evangelical, more creative and synthesising, if the challenges for deep and dramatic change are to be met. The cases all illustrate to varying degrees the themes within this book on the significance of localism, of the relationship between business model innovation and technological innovation, the wider fit between business and society, and the issue of economic scale. The sectors chosen here do not conform to any particular sampling framework. That is to say, these are not necessarily the ‘best’ sectors in which to explore business models for sustainability; or indeed the ‘worst’. The sectors and the examples chosen were not selected at random, but rather emerged out of previous knowledge and some sense of their significance. Obviously, there are therefore some significant gaps in the coverage in this selection. In terms of the overall economy there is no discussion of services such as telecommunications or banking that are equally important in contemporary lifestyles and embed significant sustainability implications.

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