Towards a Business Model that promotes Sustainable Solutions
Abstract: Purpose: The purpose of this study is to increase the understanding of how the business model of an architecture firm needs to adapt when the company decides to offer sustainable construction. This by identifying what characterizes the business model in an architecture firm that actively works with sustainable construction. When relevant, the study will also provide insights about the transformation process the firm needs to go through in order to adapt its business model. Methodology: The starting point for the study was to review existing theory within the research domains; the offensive sustainability approach, business models, and architecture firms. This phase was deductive and resulted in a preliminary theoretical framework. Thereafter a multiple case study was conducted with the purpose to develop theory by complementing, rejecting and positioning the suggestions offered by the preliminary theoretical framework in an empirical context. Lastly, we analyzed the collected data and came up with a final framework using a pattern matching approach. Thus, the study is argued to be of semi-deductive character. Theoretical perspectives: The theoretical review concerns the three research domains; the offensive sustainability approach, business models, and architecture firms. Empirical foundation: The multiple case study consists of ten cases. Each case represents an architecture firm that operates within one or more of the Nordic countries. All architecture firms are considered to be in the forefront when it comes to offering sustainable constructions. Conclusion: The answer to our purpose is the final framework, which in our view offers a robust, rigorous and relevant perspective on what the business model of an architecture firm entails in order to successfully offer sustainable construction. The framework is structured into four different levels of analysis, which explain different relationships that a firm has to consider to successfully transform. Key at the market level is to start with defining the customer and its needs in order to build a personalized relationship and thus gain revenue in the long run. At the organizational level an organizational structure that facilitates engagement among employees and enables efficient distribution and development of knowledge is vital. At the industry level collaboration with other actors is argued to be necessary in order to realize a sustainable design. Finally, the society level considers the relationship an architecture firm needs to have with external actors in order drive the question and consequently influence the level of demand.
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