How Ecosystem Actors Manage Opportunities and Challenges through Business Model Innovation : A Case Study on the Electrification of Heavy Road Transport along E16 Borlänge – Gävle Hamn
Abstract: The electrification of heavy road transport is ongoing in Sweden. Multiple electrification technologies are emerging and electric truck models are being added to the product portfolios of the truck manufacturers. However, questions have remained regarding how the electrification of heavy road transport will unfold in practice, as it has been unclear what roles the actors of the emerging electric heavy road transport ecosystem will enact in terms of who should finance, build, own, operate and use the technical components deemed critical to the transition. This thesis addresses this issue through a case study on the electrification of heavy road transport along E16 Borlänge - Gävle Hamn, based on interviews with representatives of goods owners, haulage contractors, truck manufacturers, the port authority, electrical grid owners and charging infrastructure companies. By exploring the varying perceptions of the transition to electric heavy road transport, the studied case provides insight into how ecosystem actors manage opportunities and challenges through business model innovation and in effect contribute to the development of the ecosystem. First, the thesis addresses how the ecosystem actors perceive business model opportunities and challenges with the transition to electric heavy road transport, what roles these actors could potentially consider enacting in the transition and what roles are considered critical. From the interviews with representatives of the ecosystem actors, a wide range of opportunities and challenges are identified, as well as differing perceptions of specific opportunities, challenges and roles. It is argued that these differing perceptions add to the complexity of the emerging ecosystem, in addition to the multilateral and complementary relationships between actors, and that such complexity could be managed by one or several ecosystem actors enacting a leadership role to guide ecosystem development at its early stages. Second, how the ecosystem actors manage the perceived opportunities and challenges through business model innovation and thus participate in the development of the ecosystem is addressed. From the interviews with representatives of the ecosystem actors, the ecosystem actors are demonstrated to innovate all but one sub-component of the business model to manage these opportunities and challenges, where some actors are innovating to a greater extent than others and in turn managing a greater number of opportunities and challenges. In addition, some ecosystem actors are demonstrated to proactively innovate their business model to drive ecosystem change, as compared to the ecosystem actors who reactively innovate their business model to adapt to change. It is argued that it is the ecosystem actors who proactively innovate a great number of sub-components of the business model who will enact a leadership role and steer the development of the ecosystem, whereas the other actors follow and will have to adapt to the ecosystem leaders. Thus, by combining ecosystem and business model innovation theory, it is demonstrated that in addition to that development at an ecosystem level induces business model innovation, business model innovation inversely induces ecosystem level development.
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