A call for action: The impact of business model innovation on business ecosystems, society, and planet

Together with Yuliya Snihur we wrote a “call for action” for researchers interested in the area of (sustainable) business model innovation. 

You can find it here.

The problems we identified:

  • Business model innovation (BMI) research typically focuses on measuring “the wrong thing”: mainly economic performance of business
  • Sustainable business model innovation (SBMI) research is often quite action-oriented and does describe potential positive impact of innovations on society and the planet, but is highly qualitative with few studies focusing on actual measurement of positive impacts. 

This was based on an analysis of the most cited empirical BMI and SBMI papers. In the paper, we suggest a focus on understanding how new business models impact ecosystems, society and the natural environment. 

We suggest the following research directions (and more!):

Value destruction impact of (S)BMI 

  • What types of social or environmental value might be destroyed because of BMI and how can this be measured or mitigated? 
  • How can the positive societal and ecosystem impact of SBMI be retained when scaling and how can the negative impacts or rebound effects be avoided? 

Dynamics of (S)BMI

  • How can unsustainable vicious cycles of BMI (e.g., volume over value, addictive consumption, environmental or human resource exploitation) be broken down in favour of sustainable alternatives? 
  • Who or what are the catalysers of virtuous cycles of SBMI impacts on business ecosystems, society, and planet? 
  • How can businesses map their position in an ecosystem to better understand how to make an environmental or social impact?

Luckily we see that recent studies have picked up measurement of societal and environmental impacts of (sustainable) business models, so hopefully we can shift the focus to researching and measuring what matters. You can find some recent examples of papers assessing the environmental impacts of new circular business models in the Introduction section of this paper.


Das, A., Konietzko, J., & Bocken, N. (2022). How do companies measure and forecast environmental impacts when experimenting with circular business models?. Sustainable Production and Consumption29, 273-285.

Snihur, Y., & Bocken, N. (2022). A call for action: The impact of business model innovation on business ecosystems, society, and planet. Long Range Planning, 102182.