Sub-theme 46: The Long Shadow of Business Models: Inertia and Improvisation

Stefan Haefliger
Cass Business School, City University London, UK
Vincent Mangematin
Grenoble School of Management, France
Charles Baden-Fuller
Cass Business School, City University London, UK

Call for Papers

This theme explores business model change with its obstacles and opportunities. The sub-theme continues the on-going conversations about business models to examine and to discuss the role of business models as intermediary instruments between cognition and action, between standards of excellence and practice.

The business model can be seen as a set of cognitive configurations. Discovery and experimentation represent effective ways in which established firms can probe complex and fast-moving environments to discover what works. However, established ways of doing things represent sources of inertia and ingrained routines are difficult to challenge or even change.

Business models serve the purpose of building legitimacy in arguments. Senior managers agree on courses of action before implementing based on a shared understanding of what is desirable and possible. The process of deliberation is enhanced by a second property of business models: they are objects of inquiry. If properly specified, managers can enquire into the model by playing and experimenting with possible combinations and outcomes. We ask here: how do the cognitive and material features of existing business models impact their possible change? Managers of established firms may feel bound by the organizational culture, embedded (power) relationships and the facts and fictions that made the business successful or created the need for change.

We invite papers that address the business model theme with special consideration to business model change and established firms. How can mindful and reflected pracrices lead to change and innovation? What can we learn from theories such as ambidexterity and paradox research? How do theories of innovation influence our thinking on business model change?

We seek to build on theories that enriched the discipline of management and social and cognitive sciences more broadly. Business model research can be thought of as a helpful lens to include the reflective manager and the comprehensive and necessary set of elements that make up a sustainable, collective economic activity, be it business, charity, or government. Some organizations have been in operation for decades, even centuries, and we invite a long-term perspective on how the modus operandi can or must be re-thought and re-shaped. Historical accounts may discover patterns in business model change or link it to technological change. Social-psychological accounts may explain why groups of managers follow certain patterns in finding a shared language, coming to agreement, and changing routines.


Stefan Haefliger is Professor in Strategic Management and Innovation at Cass Business School, City University London, UK. His research and teaching focuses on co-creation strategies, knowledge reuse and regulation in innovation processes. Stefan serves as an associate editor for 'Long Range Planning' and his research has appeared in 'Management Science', 'Research Policy', and 'MIS Quarterly'.
Vincent Mangematin is Professor at Grenoble School of Management, France. His key research interest lies within innovation and the evolution of technologies, business models and emerging processes. His research appeared in 'Organization Studies', 'Long Range Planning', 'Research Policy' and 'Strategic Organization'.
Charles Baden-Fuller is the Centenary Professor of Strategy at Cass Business School, City University London, UK. His strategy insights into the management of mature firms have been written up in many academic articles and his (coauthored) Harvard Business Press "Rejuvenating the Mature Business". He is well known for his work on Business Models that appeared in 'Long Range Planning' and 'Strategic Organization'.