An actor-network perspective on business models: How ‘Being Responsible’ led to incremental but pervasive change

Oliver Laasch

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Business models have been studied as organizational value logics, which manifest in the states of cognition, artefacts, and activities. There is no conceptual perspective integrating all three of these states yet. In response, this paper develops a conceptual scaffold of an actor-network perspective: Value logics become programs of action as they are embodied in human actors’ cognition and inscribed into artefacts, forming actor networks that enact business model activity systems. An in depth case study of The Company (anonymized) and of its corporate responsibility initiative ‘Being Responsible’ illustrates the empirical application of this perspective. An analysis of 104 interviews with 72 individuals shows how The Company's business model was enacted by a network of human and nonhuman actors. The Being-Responsible artefact engaged in translation through which it enrolled business model actors to enact a responsibility logic in addition to their commercial logic. This changed the business model incrementally, but pervasively. The paper contributes (1) an integration of existing theory on business model logics manifesting cognition, artefacts, and activities in an actor-network perspective, (2) an extension of research on artefacts, exploring their agency when not explicitly related to the business model; and (3) the development of substantive theory that explains incremental, pervasive business model change through distributed processes of translation. The translation perspective also holds promise for explaining the dynamics of business model creation, maintenance, and radical business model change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-426
Number of pages21
JournalLong Range Planning
Volume52
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management

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