Abstract

Business models (BM) have come to great popularity recently in the practitioner-oriented as well as the academic literature. However, there is a lack of clarity what a BM actually comprises and thus confusing guidelines on how to ideally design a BM. One of the most rigorous and theoretically grounded BM conceptualizations is the perspective by Amit & Zott (2001) who identify design themes as the key value drivers behind BM designs. This conceptualization lends itself well for large scale comparisons of frameworks. However, it has several improvement areas: First, the design themes were derived in an exploratory analysis of firms from the dot-com era, and thus “therefore might not explain all the variation in the dependent variable [firm performance] due to BM design themes” (Zott & Amit, 2007: 195). Second, the conceptualization was so far studied separately from other concepts. Third, it has only been applied in entrepreneurial contexts and the generalizability is only assumed. In the paper, we attempt to overcome these criticisms by reviewing the design themes and proposing a synthesized framework for BMs.

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