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  • Public defence: 2019-12-06 10:00 O124, Halmstad
    Karlsson, Niklas
    Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science, The Rydberg Laboratory for Applied Sciences (RLAS). Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science, Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL).
    Doing well by doing good: The business model innovation process for sustainability in farm-based biogas production2019Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Research on innovation that leads to change and adaptation in dynamic business environments has increased rapidly in recent decades. This doctoral thesis, which focuses on business model innovation (BMI), contributes to that research with its examination of how businesses can alter their structures to create, deliver, and capture greater economic value as well as environmental and social value. The overarching aim of the thesis is to explore how the business model innovation process for sustainability (BMIpfS) can contribute to profitable biogas production at Swedish farm businesses. Biogas, which is a renewable energy resource produced from microbial decomposition of organic material in an oxygen free environment, can be used to produce heat, electricity, or vehicle fuel. The thesis examines the initiation, implementation, and use of the BMIpfS at biogas-producing farms in ways that support the development of business models for sustainability (BMfS). In addition to economic value, a BMfS enables farm businesses and external stakeholders (e.g., municipalities and local companies) to capture environmental value and social value from biogas production and create business cases for sustainability (BCfS) that can improve biogas profitability.

    Both an inductive and deductive reasoning approach is taken in this research that is presented in a case study, two action research studies, and two survey studies. The case study identifies and describes various success factors for BMI for sustainability in a biogas network. The action research studies explore how BMI process can be modified to address sustainability considerations and the outcomes useful for supporting stakeholder collaboration and facilitating the development of a BMfS. The survey studies investigate how the farm businesses’ corporate sustainability strategies and stakeholder considerations influence the development of BMfS and the creation of BCfS. All studies were conducted at farm businesses in Sweden. The data were collected in interviews, workshops, and questionnaires.

    The results from this research show that BMI for sustainability takes place in three main phases: the pre-phase, the ongoing phase, and the post-phase. Based on these three phases, the BMIpfS Framework is developed. The Framework illustrates how a business model (BM) can be changed and adapted to realize sustainable value creation. Several factors determine the success of the BMIpfS Framework at biogas-producing farm businesses. In the pre-phase, these factors include a long-term perspective on biogas profitability, integration of sustainability considerations into business strategies, promotion of cooperation with customers, and the establishment of interactions with the consumer markets. Use of the Flourishing Business Canvas tool in the ongoing phase can enhance external stakeholders’ understanding of BMs and BMI, and can promote idea generation for the BMfS. Sustainability-oriented BM prototypes are used in the post-phase to support network collaboration in development of BMfS and in the creation of BCfS, both of which are intended to increase biogas profitability by solving sustainability issues.

    This thesis contributes to the literature with its findings on how the BMIpfS Framework can be used in organizational changes. These findings show how an organization can move from its existing BM to a more sustainability-oriented BM. The thesis identifies the internal and external antecedents related to the initiation and implementation of the BMIpfS and offers new insights on the development of BMfS through the integration of sustainabil­ity considerations using business modelling tools that facilitate BM experimentation and stakeholder collaboration. Moreover, the thesis explains how use of the BMIpfS Framework can create sustainability-oriented BM prototypes that enhance network BM collaboration with stakeholders in the value chain (i.e. BMfS development and BCfS creation). As far as practical contributions, the thesis highlights the usefulness of the BMIpfS Framework in farm-based biogas production. With the BMIpfS Framework, the thesis presents a structured approach that practitioners can follow in initiating and implementing sustainability-oriented changes to their existing BMs. Practitioners who want to increase the profitability of their biogas production through sustainability should initially focus their BMI activities on the business infrastructure (key partner identification and interaction) and customer interface (relationships, distribution channels, and segments) of existing BMs.

    This thesis ultimately concludes that biogas-producing farm businesses should initiate and implement a BMIpfS that leads to economic, environmental, and social value creation. Stakeholder considerations and interactions are key factors in all phases of BMIpfS. In this process, sustainable business modelling tools and BM prototype development can be used to facilitate incremental sustainability-oriented changes to existing BMs. The BMIpfS Framework has an important role for the development and implementation of BMfS in the biogas industry as a contributor to the circular economy that features renewable and sustainable energy systems.