Sustainable Business Model Design: A Review of Tools for Developing Responsible Business Models

  • Alex HopeEmail author
Part of the CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance book series (CSEG)


Sustainable and Responsible Business has become a mainstream concept as organisations seek to adapt to a changing business environment and address social, environmental and economic challenges. However many academics and practitioners suggest that such efforts are prone to inevitable failure as they are peripheral, uneconomic, and incremental. It is common for businesses to innovate at the level of their products and services yet to be truly sustainable and responsible, activities should be linked with the core business of the firm and requires more radical innovation. There is then a need to that innovate at the level of a firm’s value creation process, at the level of the business model. Whilst there is much research which present case studies of companies who utilise sustainable business model designs, only recently has attention turned to the development and application of tools and techniques which can assist business leaders in developing models to apply to their own organisations. This chapter discusses sustainable business model design before reviewing a range of toolkits designed to integrate sustainability principles into business strategic planning and assessing their applicability to sustainable and responsible business model design. The aim is to identify and review some of the key tools available for firms to utilise when developing new sustainable business model pathways.


Sustainable business model Responsible innovation Responsible business CSR Strategic planning 


  1. Ahmed, M. D., & Sundaram, D. (2008). Sustainability modelling and reporting: Integrative frameworks and architectures. In B. S. Sahay (Ed.), Decision sciences and technology for globalisation (pp. 426–439). New Delhi: Allied Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Ahmed, M. D., & Sundaram, D. (2012). Sustainability modelling and reporting: From roadmap to implementation. Decision Support Systems, 53(3), 611–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amit, R., & Zott, C. (2001). Value creation in e-business. Strategic Management Journal. Retrieved from
  4. Baden-Fuller, C., & Morgan, M. S. (2010). Business models as models. Long Range Planning, 43(2), 156–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Basile, G., Broman, G., & Robert, K. H. (2011). A systems-based approach to sustainable enterprise: Requirements, utility, and limits. In S. G. McNall, J. C. Hershauer, & G. Basile (Eds.), The business of sustainability – Trends, policies, practices and stories of success, Vol. I: Global challenges and opportunities (Vol. 1, pp. 3–28). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.Google Scholar
  6. Baumgartner, R. J., & Rauter, R. (2017). Strategic perspectives of corporate sustainability management to develop a sustainable organization. Journal of Cleaner Production, 140(Part 1), 81–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bessant, J. (2013). Innovation in the twenty-first century. In R. Owen, J. Bessant, & M. Heintz (Eds.), Responsible innovation (pp. 1–25). London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Birkin, F., Cashman, A., & Koh, S. (2009). New sustainable business models in China. Business Strategy and the Environment. Retrieved from
  9. Bocken, N. M. P., Allwood, J. M., Willey, A. R., & King, J. M. H. (2012/1). Development of a tool for rapidly assessing the implementation difficulty and emissions benefits of innovations. Technovation, 32(1), 19–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bocken, N., Short, S., Rana, P., & Evans, S. (2013). A value mapping tool for sustainable business modelling. Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, 13(5), 482–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Breuer, H. (2012). Business Innovation Kit|UX Berlin Innovation Consulting. Retrieved August 10, 2017, from
  12. Breuer, H. (2013). Lean venturing: Learning to create new business through exploration, elaboration, evaluation, experimentation, and evolution. International Journal of Innovation Management, 17(03), 1340013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Breuer, H., & Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2015). Values-based innovation framework – Innovating by what we care about. Retrieved from
  14. Breuer, H., & Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2016a). Values-based innovation management: Innovating by what we care about. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  15. Breuer, H., & Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2016b). Values-based network and business model innovation. International Journal of Innovation Management, 21(03), 1750028.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Broman, G. I., & Robèrt, K.-H. (2017). A framework for strategic sustainable development. Journal of Cleaner Production, 140(Part 1), 17–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chesbrough, H. (2010). Business model innovation: Opportunities and barriers. Long Range Planning, 43(2–3), 354–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chesbrough, H. (2013). Business model innovation: It’s not just about technology anymore. Strategy & Leadership, 35(6), 12–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chesbrough, H., & Rosenbloom, R. S. (2002). The role of the business model in capturing value from innovation: Evidence from Xerox Corporation’s technology spin-off companies. Industrial and Corporate Change, 11(3), 529–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Coes, D. H. (2014, March 13). Critically assessing the strengths and limitations of the Business Model Canvas. University of Twente. Retrieved from
  21. De Reuver, M., Bouwman, H., & Maclnnes, I. (2009). Business model dynamics: A case survey. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, 4(1), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eriksson, H.-E., & Penker, M. (2000). Business modeling with UML: Business patterns and business objects. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  23. Evans, S., Rana, P., & Short, S. W. (2014). Final set of tools and methods that enable analysis of future oriented, novel, sustainable, value adding business models and value-networks. Deliverable, D2, 6.Google Scholar
  24. Flourishing Enterprise Innovation. (2017). The toolkit & canvas – Flourishing enterprise innovation. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from
  25. França, C. L. (2017). Business model design for strategic sustainable development. Blekinge Tekniska Högskola. Retrieved from
  26. França, C. L., Broman, G., Robèrt, K.-H., Basile, G., & Trygg, L. (2017). An approach to business model innovation and design for strategic sustainable development. Journal of Cleaner Production, 140(Part 1), 155–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Holmberg, J., & Robert, K.-H. (2000). Backcasting – A framework for strategic planning. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 7(4), 291–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hope, A., & Moehler, R. (2015). Responsible business model innovation: Reconceptualising the role of business in society. In Proceedings of the European Academy of Management EURAM’15 Conference. Warsaw: European Academy of Management. Retrieved from
  29. Johnson, M. W., Christensen, C. M., & Kagermann, H. (2008). Reinventing your business model. Harvard Business Review, 86(12), 57–68.Google Scholar
  30. Joyce, A., & Paquin, R. L. (2016). The triple layered business model canvas: A tool to design more sustainable business models. Journal of Cleaner Production, 135, 1474–1486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2010). Towards a conceptual framework of ‘Business Models for Sustainability’. Retrieved from
  32. Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2015, February 26). “Sustainability Innovation Pack” (Beta) – Facilitation tool for sustainable business model innovation. Retrieved August 10, 2017, from
  33. Magretta, J. (2002). Why business models matter. Harvard Business Review, 80(5), 86–92, 133.Google Scholar
  34. Maurya, A. (2012). Running lean: Iterate from plan A to a plan that works. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly.Google Scholar
  35. Nidumolu, R., & Prahalad, C. K. (2009). Why sustainability is now the key driver of innovation. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from
  36. Osterwalder, A., & Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business model generation: A handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers. Retrieved from
  37. Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2011). The big idea: Creating shared value. Harvard Business Review, 89(1), 2.Google Scholar
  38. Rana, P., Short, S. W., Evans, S., & Granados, M. H. (2017). Sustainable business models: Theoretical reflections. In J. P. Liyanage & T. Uusitalo (Eds.), Value networks in manufacturing (pp. 95–109). Springer.Google Scholar
  39. Rebitzer, G., Ekvall, T., Frischknecht, R., Hunkeler, D., Norris, G., Rydberg, T., et al. (2004/7). Life cycle assessment: Part 1: Framework, goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, and applications. Environment International, 30(5), 701–720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Robèrt, K.-H., & Anderson, R. (2002). The natural step story: Seeding a quiet revolution. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers.Google Scholar
  41. Schaltegger, S., & Wagner, M. (2011). Sustainable entrepreneurship and sustainability innovation: Categories and interactions. Business Strategy and the Environment, 20(4), 222–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schaltegger, S., Luedeke-Freund, F., & Hansen, E. G. (2012). Business cases for sustainability: The role of business model innovation for corporate sustainability. International Journal of Innovation & Sustainable Development, 6(2), 95–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schaltegger, S., Hansen, E. G., & Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2015). Business models for sustainability. Organization & Environment, 29(1), 3–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stubbs, W., & Cocklin, C. (2008). Conceptualizing a “Sustainability Business Model”. Organization & Environment, 21(2), 103–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Taebi, B., Correljé, A., Cuppen, E., Dignum, M., & Pesch, U. (2014). Responsible innovation as an endorsement of public values: The need for interdisciplinary research. Journal of Responsible Innovation, 1(1), 118–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Upward, A. (2013). Towards an ontology and canvas for strongly sustainable business models: A systemic design science exploration. York University Toronto. Retrieved from
  47. Upward, A., & Jones, P. (2016). An ontology for strongly sustainable business models. Organization & Environment, 29(1), 97–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Voelpel, S. C., Leibold, M., & Tekie, E. B. (2004). The wheel of business model reinvention: How to reshape your business model to leapfrog competitors. Journal of Change Management, 4(3), 259–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. von Schomberg, R. (2013). A vision of responsible research and innovation. In R. Owen, J. Bessant, & M. Heintz (Eds.), Responsible innovation: Managing the responsible emergence of science and innovation in society (pp. 51–64). London: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Willard, B. (2012). The new sustainability advantage: Seven business case benefits of a triple bottom line. New York: New Society Publishers.Google Scholar
  51. Yang, M., Vladimirova, D., Rana, P., & Evans, S. (2014). Sustainable value analysis tool for value creation. Asian Journal of Management Science and Applications, 1(4), 312.Google Scholar
  52. Yang, M., Evans, S., Vladimirova, D., & Rana, P. (2017a). Value uncaptured perspective for sustainable business model innovation. Journal of Cleaner Production, 140, 1794–1804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yang, M., Vladimirova, D., & Evans, S. (2017b). Creating and capturing value through sustainability. Research-Technology Management, 60(3), 30–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zott, C., Amit, R., & Massa, L. (2011). The business model: Recent developments and future research. Journal of Management. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Newcastle Business SchoolNorthumbria UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

Personalised recommendations