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The business model: Theoretical roots, recent developments, and future research


  • Zott, Christoph

    () (IESE Business School)

  • Amit, Raphael

    (The Wharton Sschool)

  • Massa, Lorenzo

    (IESE Business School)


The paper provides a broad and multifaceted review of the received literature on business models, in which we attempt to explore the origin of the construct and to examine the business model concept through multiple disciplinary and subject-matter lenses. The review reveals that scholars do not agree on what a business model is, and that the literature is developing largely in silos, according to the phenomena of interest to the respective researchers. However, we also found some emerging common ground among students of business models. Specifically, i) the business model is emerging as a new unit of analysis; ii) business models emphasize a system-level, holistic approach towards explaining how firms do business; iii) organizational activities play an important role in the various conceptualizations of business models that have been proposed, and iv) business models seek not only to explain the ways in which value is captured but also how it is created. These emerging themes could serve as important catalysts towards a more unified study of business models.

Suggested Citation

  • Zott, Christoph & Amit, Raphael & Massa, Lorenzo, 2010. "The business model: Theoretical roots, recent developments, and future research," IESE Research Papers D/862, IESE Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0862

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    Cited by:

    1. Maucuer, Raphaël, 2013. "Partenariats ONG-entreprise et évolution du business model de la grande entreprise. Le cas de Suez-Environnement," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/11795 edited by De Montmorillon, Bernard, Enero.
    2. Sorin-George Toma & Paul Marinescu & Catalin Gradinaru, 2016. "The Age Of Sustainable Business Models," Management Strategies Journal, Constantin Brancoveanu University, vol. 34(4), pages 128-132.
    3. Jesús Rodríguez-Molina & Margarita Martínez-Núñez & José-Fernán Martínez & Waldo Pérez-Aguiar, 2014. "Business Models in the Smart Grid: Challenges, Opportunities and Proposals for Prosumer Profitability," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(9), pages 1-30, September.
    4. Andrea Runfola & Massimo Rosati & Simone Guercini, 2013. "New business models in online hotel distribution: emerging private sales versus leading IDS," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 7(2), pages 183-205, June.
    5. Haslam, Colin & Butlin, John & Andersson, Tord & Malamatenios, John & Lehman, Glen, 2014. "Accounting for carbon and reframing disclosure: A business model approach," Accounting forum, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 200-211.
    6. Andreas Zolnowski & Martin Semmann & Sharif Amrou & Tilo Böhmann, 2013. "Identifying opportunities for service productivity improvement using a business model lens," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3-4), pages 409-425, February.
    7. Bergvall-Kåreborn, Birgitta & Howcroft, Debra, 2013. "The Apple business model: Crowdsourcing mobile applications," Accounting forum, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 280-289.
    8. Sopitsuda Tongsopit & Sunee Moungchareon & Apinya Aksornkij & Tanai Potisat, . "Business Models and Financing Options for a Rapid Scale-up of Rooftop Solar Power Systems in Thailand," Chapters, in: Shigeru Kimura & Youngho Chang & Yanfei Li (ed.),Financing Renewable Energy Development in East Asia Summit Countries A Primer of Effective Policy Instruments, chapter 4, pages 79-136, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    9. Ghanbari, Amirhossein & Álvarez, Óscar & Markendahl, Jan, 2015. "Internet of Things: redefinition of Business Models for the next generation of Telecom services," 26th European Regional ITS Conference, Madrid 2015 127142, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    10. Robert Ambrož & Doris Gomezelj Omerzel, 2017. "Business Model Innovation in Tourism: How to Survive in Highly Competitive Environments," Academica Turistica - Tourism and Innovation Journal, University of Primorska Press, vol. 10(2), pages 175-183.
    11. Fageda, Xavier & Suau-Sanchez, Pere & Mason, Keith J., 2015. "The evolving low-cost business model: Network implications of fare bundling and connecting flights in Europe," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 289-296.
    12. Janine Fleith Medeiros & Gabriel Vidor & José Luís Duarte Ribeiro, 2018. "Driving Factors for the Success of the Green Innovation Market: A Relationship System Proposal," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 147(2), pages 327-341, January.
    13. repec:eco:journ2:2017-04-07 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Eric Berthelot & Steven Coissard & Kachour Maher, 2012. "Les parties prenantes au cœur du business model," Working Papers hal-00967045, HAL.
    15. repec:eco:journ2:2017-04-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Morten Rask, 2014. "Internationalization through business model innovation: In search of relevant design dimensions and elements," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 146-161, June.
    17. Gerrit Remane & Andre Hanelt & Jan F. Tesch & Lutz M. Kolbe, 2017. "The Business Model Pattern Database — A Tool For Systematic Business Model Innovation," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 21(01), pages 1-61, January.
    18. Bistra Vassileva & Yordan Ivanov, 2017. "“3G” Business Model for Marketing 4.0: Implications for Circular Economy," Journal of Emerging Trends in Marketing and Management, The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, vol. 1(1), pages 124-134, October.
    19. Specht, Jan Martin & Madlener, Reinhard, 2019. "Energy Supplier 2.0: A conceptual business model for energy suppliers aggregating flexible distributed assets and policy issues raised," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 135(C).
    20. Marko, Wolfgang A., 2014. "Small-scale, Big Impact – Utilities’ New Business Models for “Energiewende”," Die Unternehmung - Swiss Journal of Business Research and Practice, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, vol. 68(3), pages 201-220.
    21. Małgorzata Dobrowolska & Lilla Knop, 2020. "Fit to Work in the Business Models of the Industry 4.0 Age," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(12), pages 1-18, June.
    22. Nizar Abdelkafi & Sergiy Makhotin & Thorsten Posselt, 2013. "Business Model Innovations For Electric Mobility — What Can Be Learned From Existing Business Model Patterns?," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 17(01), pages 1-41.

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    Business model; strategy; technology management; innovation; literature review;

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