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Approches to business model research: conceptual foundations, resourses, relationships, performance measurement

Priority areas of development: management
Department: Laboratory of Network Organizational Forms
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

 The object of this study includes business models and their key elements and research methods. 

The project aim was to establish and validate an approach to the BM analysis in the context of a common conceptual framework for the consolidation of the various areas of managerial studies. The following tasks were accomplished in order to achieve the project goal:

  • analysis and systematization of approaches to the business model research, development of a framework of relevant assessments for different business models; 
  • analysis of the business model as a basis for the evaluation of managerial practices: development of an approach to the evaluation of marketing practices;
  • customer orientation research as a part of modern BM;
  • analysis of the innovation component of BM and open innovation model configuration.

To achieve the objectives the project in 2014 was carried out in several corresponding directions:

  • analysis of BM understanding and research background;
  • conceptual framework development and establishing of the BM analysis scheme;
  • business model analysis as a basis for managerial practice evaluation in operational level of BM;
  • the formation of the operating system and the operationalization of the conceptual BM;
  • study of customer oriented Russian companies and customer orientation impact on the BM formation;
  • analysis of the key elements of the direct selling business model;
  • innovative BMs: key component analysis;
  • environment impact on BM renovation capabilities and open innovation model configuration.

The research project used a range of methods, including inductive and deductive methods, statistical methods of analysis, simulation, case studies, survey method, the method of in-depth interviews.

Various sources of information (surveys of enterprises and departments, individual entrepreneurs, official statistics, materials from international organizations and think tanks) were used for this report preparation. In particular, the project used data of Rosstat, the World Bank and the OECD's annual Executive Opinion Survey, published by the World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report, materials and information by analytical and rating agencies, materials, quarterly and annual reports from company websites.

The novelty of the research and the most important results are as follows:

  • In the course of the study various approaches to understanding the essence of BM were reviewed and classified that have emerged during the past two decades. Based on analysis of the key trends in the study of BM and the concept of BM a new BM framework was developed, which can be used as a theoretical platform for further research. It can also be employed as the basis of a new methodology for the study of BM phenomenon.
  • As part of the literature review of the existing diversity of views and interpretations of the BM concept we identified several dimensions of the central element of the BM: creation, distribution and assignment of the value created among the of inter-firm network participants. We also suggested BM definition on the basis of semantic and analysis generalization.
  • On the basis of a consensus of researchers’ opinion on BM and previously developed author's approach to marketing we proposed a conceptual model based on a network inter-firm cooperation, showing the interaction of the various components of the BM. This conceptual model can be considered as a common platform for creation of theoretical typology of existing BM
  • Based on the developed conceptual model of BM we establish an approach to sequential analysis of BM, based on the proposed concept of network content of BM. This approach involves three stages of the analysis: network analysis, defining the mechanism of interaction of the main participants in the network and the results of inter-firm cooperation assessment. Allocation of these three stages of analysis allows you to organize the review, the logical grouping of metrics and indicators used in the analysis. Operationalization of the scheme on each of the selected level will allow for express-analysis of BM and classification of existing models by multiple parameters of the selected levels.
  • The analysis revealed an operational level of BM, ratio options and business processes. We also developed a model that generalizes the possible relations strategy, BM and business processes on the basis of which a detailed description of the operating system as a whole object BM is available for analysis.
  • In the course of research we developed operational, structural, cross-functional and process dimensions of BM, which allow to approach quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the operating component of the BM.
  • A set of indicators for evaluation of inputs and outputs of MB was suggested. These indicators can be used for performance analysis of BM, as well as for making decisions to develop a new BM for an enterprise in case a significant change in the quality and quantity of inputs.
  • As part of the customer orientation (CO) study that is one of the key elements of the business model we tested a number of CO scales (MKTOR, 9 scale factor Deshpande, Farley and Webster (1993), a proactive market orientation, market orientation reactive) and suggest the necessity to adapt them for use in the Russian market. Analysis of quantitative research has shown that managers of Russian companies recognize the importance of customer orientation, but lower values ​​for key CO indicators suggest that customer orientation is not real but a declared one as it is not used as BM base focused on creating value for customers. We used qualitative methods in order to specify the reasons for declared CO in the Russian market. The main problem is that CO framework and its role in BM development are misunderstood. Russian companies do not develop business processes for customer data collection, dissemination and analysis, no customer satisfaction metrics are employed, and no cross-functional data exchange processes can be found.
  • Three basic elements of the direct selling BM were distinguished and analyzed (customers, partners, created value) based on a nationwide study of the direct selling industry. Based on these results we discussed characteristic of distribution partners of the company and developed the structure of partners’ value that consists of several components: economic, personal and organizational. Also, the analysis of the gap between expectations of the partners and their assessment of the resulting values was carried out which affects the overall partner satisfaction with distribution activity in the direct selling industry. The basic characteristics of the consumers and the value they receive were described, based on which the advantages of direct sales to customers.
  • The driving forces of innovative BM (novelty, efficiency, complementarity and retention) were identified. These forces promote and enhance value and improve the sustainability of competitive advantage. Innovative components of the BM are the base for effective value creation and sustainability of competitive advantage. The implementation of these principles is based on agility and open innovation, the formation of mutually beneficial partnerships. Driving forces of value creation, update and transformation of BM essentially depend on the characteristics of the business environment, that is shown in the case study of business models of Nokia and Lassila&Tikanoja provided.
  • Our study based on expert assessments of the Global Innovation Index cross-country comparison study showed that the ability to create new and update existing BM closely linked with the peculiarities of the business environment: the rule of law, the intensity of local competition, the degree of development of inter-firm relationships. These characteristics directly affect the main components of the BM, innovative solutions for joint value creation, based on the use of complementary assets and the development of partnerships, the decisions on the value distribution ​​and the construction of the operation model of business organization.


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