An Exploration of the Business Model Concept’s Meaning and Usage in Switzerland: Towards an Application Framework

Stalder, Oliver (2018) An Exploration of the Business Model Concept’s Meaning and Usage in Switzerland: Towards an Application Framework. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Although considered a popular and useful tool to support the creation of new enterprises and to develop existing businesses, the business model concept is used so widely and loosely that it may have no clear meaning in practice. A thorough literature review showed that the concept is often discussed theoretically and conceptually but there was a distinct lack of empirical studies of its conceptualisation and application. This research is intended to address this limitation in extant knowledge. The broad research aim was to explore the conceptualisation and application of the business model concept within three Swiss communities of academics, training and consultancy professionals and small business owner-managers. Subsidiary aims were to explore the concept’s perceived limitations, and the ways that members of the three communities have further refined the concept in order to address to its shortcomings. To fulfil these aims, in-depth interviews were conducted with samples of 10 academics with expertise in business models, 13 business support professionals and 12 owner-managers of technology-based small businesses, all located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. The research findings revealed a high level of diversity in the interpretation and application of the business model concept and in evaluations of its usefulness, both within and across the three samples. There were some interesting general differences between the samples. The academics reflected ideas from the literature while support professionals also offered new application perspectives, but only rarely applied the concept in their work with firms. Only a few SME owner-managers applied the concept in any way and some were unaware of it. The contributions include the finding that the business model concept is understood and applied differently across the three communities, a distinction being made between revenue and ‘advanced’ concept thinking, and the importance of time and emergence in the application of business model thinking. It is shown that SMEs are in a different business model development stage from start-ups and large firms, having different business model needs. The necessity of a framework assisting managers in the creation and diversification of revenue streams is proposed. As a final integrative contribution, the thesis concludes with a conceptual framework differentiating between the two main sub-units ‘value proposition’ and ‘business architecture/logic’ on the one side, and the two main purposes ‘analysis/refinement’ and ‘creation’ on the other side. This four-dimensional framework reduces complexity in application allows for making better-informed business model application decisions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Business model concept; Switzerland; Small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD2340.8 Small and Medium-sized businesses, artisans, handcrafts, trades
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2019 17:05
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2023 12:50

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