|dc.description.abstract||Purpose – The main purpose of this study is to increase the understanding of the sustainable
business model innovation (SBMI) process in large firms by holistically examining the process
from “idea to launch.”
Design/methodology/approach – To provide an answer to how large firms navigate the
process of SBMI, an initial conceptual process framework based on insights from innovation
management literature and a synthesis of 16 process models from sustainable and conventional
business model innovation (BMI) literature was abductively developed into a final process
model that integrates the empirical findings of a multiple case study of SBMI processes in
three large German firms. Both in-case analysis and cross-case analysis were applied.
Findings – This study proposes a process model for SBMI in large corporations. It comprises
four process phases (diagnosis, discovery, design, and delivery) and provides insights into the
process activities performed and actors involved in the aforesaid four phases as well as the
overarching characteristics of the SBMI process as a whole. The study identifies ten process
activities. The results indicate that both analytical and experimental activities are present in
the SBMI process and while they show resemblance to conventional BMI, sustainability is
strongly embedded in most process activities. In terms of process actors, the findings indicate
that the process of SBMI is initiated either by the CEO or a small group of employees within
a department that request cross-functional support inside the organization and integrate
external stakeholders to a varying extent, depending on the process phase they are in.
However, a uniform organizational anchoring of SBMI responsibilities tends to be missing. In
terms of process characteristics, the findings suggest that the way that process actors navigate
the process of SBMI can be guided by systematic schemes, yet its nature is characterized by
non-linear iterations, in particular between the delivery and design phase as well as the
discovery and diagnosis phase. Finally, the findings reveal the relevance of timing and
intention in the process of SBMI, which emerged as additional patterns from the data.
Research implications – The study addresses the dearth of knowledge on the process of SBMI
and paucity of empirical research in the specific context of large firms. The study contributes
to the relatively nascent state of the process-oriented, holistic stream of SBMI literature.
Practical implications – The practical utility of the process model proposed lies in the
provision of guidance to managers and cross-functional teams that wish to navigate the process
of SBMI in the attempt to create a novel SBM or revise their current BM towards
sustainability. As such, it gives practitioners a clearer understanding of how to approach the
processual black box of SBMI, which constitutes a highly challenging and uncertain endeavor.
Keywords – Business model, sustainable business model, business model innovation,
sustainable business model innovation, process model, multiple case study, large firms.||en_US