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The implementation of complex business models

Published on
16 December 2015

Ryan Rumble, PhD student, and Vincent Mangematin, scientific director of research, are members of the Business Models and Strategy research team. In this article they reveal how business models are adopted in practice, and explored the relationship between business model complexity and implementation.

The need for heuristics in implementing multi-sided models

Based on a comparison of 77 businesses the authors explore what key practices were consistently present during the operationalization of different business model types. Using the conceptual framework developed by Baden-Fuller and Mangematin, that highlights 4 key dimensions to business models -customer identification, customer engagement, monetization, and value chain linkages- they propose 16 ideal types of business models.

During their study, the researchers paid particular attention to multi-sided models, which are growing in prominence, and require businesses to manage complexity and interdependencies.

Surprisingly, their analyses reveal that tools developed to support business design, creativity, or visualization were systematically absent from the operationalization of complex, multi-sided business models.

This paper contributes to our understanding in three ways :

  • It reveals how businesses with complex business models are developed using heuristics rather than rational design tools

  • It highlights consistent relationships between the practices employed during business creation/reconfiguration and the business models that are adopted

  • It opens productive research approaches to develop tools to support heuristics in business design and implementation.

Abstract online