Revisit: Business Model Innovation


In Social Purpose Organizations, Special issue of Journal of Business Research; Deadline now 28 Mar 2019

Business model innovation in social purpose organizations

Special issue of the Journal of Business Research
Full Call for Papers

Guest Editors

  • Jay Weerawardena, University of Queensland
  • Gillian Sullivan Mort, La Trobe University
  • Sandeep Salunke, Queensland University of Technology
  • Nardia Haigh, University of Massachusetts Boston

Overview & purpose

The emergence of social purpose organizations (SPOs) and their contribution to the economy and societal well-being has been well-documented. SPOs include various types of organisations established to achieve a social mission, including conventional non-profits (NFPs), for-profit social enterprises, and hybrid legal forms that are increasingly evident around the globe. Faced with an increasingly competitive and constrained environment (Weerawardena et al., 2010), or the realization that the initial business model was less than ideal for achieving their dual social—economic mission, SPOs have pursued business model innovation (BMI); establishing “mixed-entity” enterprises, or establishing new legal entities like Community Interest Companies in the UK and Benefit Corporations in the U.S. (Haigh, Kennedy, & Walker, 2015). Within the conventional NFPs sector, SPOs have pursued new business models, such as community enterprises using shareholder models, cooperatives, intermediate labour market companies and expanding into new services to remain viable when their survival is threatened (Barraket, Mason and Blain, 2016). These initiatives involve more complex governance structures (Alter, 2006) and working with new stakeholders (Weerawardena et al., 2010). Overall, the current social purpose environment is dynamic and continuously evolving, with firms needing to balance dual social-economic goals.

Business models are seen as an antecedent of heterogeneity in firm performance (Foss & Saebi, 2017) and competitive advantage (Zott & Amit, 2007). We define BMI as effecting new and value adding changes to the business model processes of the firm, i.e, value proposition (products, services, market positioning, etc.), value creation (core activities and processes) and value capture mechanisms (revenue expansion, operational efficiencies) (Bocken, Short, Rana & Evans, 2014) and/or the architecture linking these elements (Foss & Saebi, 2017). BMI can range from incremental changes in individual business model components, extending the existing business model, introducing parallel business models to replacing the existing model with a fundamentally different one (Khanagha, Volberda & Oshri, 2014).

BMI literature in the SPO sector is growing fast with for-profit BMI literature providing useful insights on the antecedents and processes through which BMI occurs and how BMI relates to firm performance. Identified antecedents include the presence of dynamic capabilities in networking, knowledge management and resource leveraging (Morris, Schindehutte, & Allen, 2005), and trial and error learning (Sosna, Trevinyo-Rodriguez & Velamuri, 2010). Research suggests that when SPOs undertake BMI, the competing demands of the dual mission create tension. Considering the unique characteristics of SPOs it has been argued that in theory building efforts in SPOs requires researchers to be cognizant of such characteristics and their operating context.

Against this background, this special issue calls for empirical and conceptual papers, which will explore and analyze BMI in SPOs. Considering the multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder nature of SPO BMI processes, we encourage researchers to adopt different discipline and multidisciplinary lenses in their submissions (c.f., Gustafsson, et al., 2016). Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

Key stages involved in SPO BMI processes The role of marketing, learning and other capabilities in the BMI process How SPOs manage the adaptive tension arising from dual mission focus as they undertake BMI Identification of the types and extent of BMI undertaken by SPOs The factors that determine the extent of BMI undertaken The role of social entrepreneurs in BMI process The environmental factors influencing and moderating BMI processes How do SPO market constituents influence the BMI process Business model component fit (internal and external) and SPO performance How BMI enables SPOs to pursue the creation of social and economic value BMI and SPO competitive advantage The examination or measurement of social outcomes, or economic outcomes of BMI, or both…