Sub-theme 65: Translating the Business Model into Action: Practice and Performativity

Stefan Häfliger, City University London, UK
Vincent Mangematin, Grenoble Ecole de Management, France
Charles Baden-Fuller, City University London, UK

Call for Papers

This theme explores the process of how business models shape action and how their properties as models come to bear on the design of business decisions. The sub-theme continues the on-going conversations about business models to examine and to discuss the role of business models as intermediary instruments between cognition and action, between standards of excellence and practice.

The business model can be seen as a set of cognitive configurations. Discovery and experimentation represent effective ways in which firms can probe complex and fast-moving environments to discover what works. However, the process of translating cognitive configurations into action involves design: rational planning, timing, improvisation, intuition, the creation of meaning, communication, and many more of the virtues attributed to designers.

Models are known to work as engines and as cameras. Managers use business models for thought experiments and for shaping markets. Some business models are famously replicated across the globe, others fail in their replication because managers have not understood what it is that made their replication successful. Performativity is a consequence of the translation effort from the cognitive configurations to action. Understanding the work of translation better may include a deeper investigation of growth strategies across cultures, replication and scaling efforts in internationalization or market expansions. When are flaws in thinking escalated in translation and when are they fixed? If they can be fixed, how can flawed models lead to healthy businesses and why?

We invite papers that address the business model theme with special consideration to the translation of the model into practice. How can mindful and reflected pracrices create sustainable and sensible businesses? How can business model innovation take place? Which are the tools to mobilise to think out of the box and to renew business models?

The models behind the businesses are a matter of hard thinking and imagination and little is known about how, exactly, the design is happening. Who designs businesses and their ecosystem when design implies grappling with complex, wicked problems, systemic links, and the implication of self in the world created? Teasing apart the cognitive configurations of the model from the action is only the first step, then we need to take care of the performativity of the model and how it can be turned into action. The list of topics is suggestive and and not complete.


Stefan Häfliger is Professor in Strategic Management and Innovation at Cass Business School, UK. His research and teaching focuses on co-creation strategies as well as knowledge reuse and design in innovation processes. Stefan serves as an Associate Editor for 'Long Range Planning', and his research has appeared in 'Management Science', 'Research Policy', and 'MIS Quarterly'.
Vincent Mangematin is Professor at Grenoble School of Management, France. His key research interest lies within innovation and the evolution of technologies, business models and emerging processes. His research appeared in 'Organization Studies', 'Long Range Planning', 'Research Policy' and 'Strategic Organization'.
Charles Baden-Fuller is the Centenary Professor of Strategy at Cass Business School, UK. His strategy insights into the management of mature firms have been written up in many academic articles and his (co-authored) Harvard Business Press "Rejuvenating the Mature Business". He is well known for his work on business models that appeared in 'Long Range Planning' and 'Strategic Organization'.