Journeying towards sustainable business models: On the collaborative shaping, shifting and redesign of organizational boundaries for sustainable business model innovation

Myrthe Gertruda Elisabeth Velter

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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This PhD thesis investigates the role of businesses in addressing grand societal challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation and social inequality. Businesses can address such challenges through innovating new, sustainable business models, but in practice, their contribution has been extremely modest regarding the challenges at hand. To provide a sharper view on the potential of sustainable business models, this thesis explores the processes that businesses and their stakeholders go through in pursuit of sustainable business model innovation (SBMI). Through empirical and theoretical research, this thesis shows that SBMI requires the crossing, redesign and re-alignment of multiple types of organizational boundaries between the business and its multiple stakeholders that affect the desirability, feasibility and sustainability of the innovation. Such a process of stakeholder engagement and alignment can be better understood through boundary work, which involves a journey of exploring, negotiating, disrupting and realigning organizational boundaries based on multiple value creation, and requires brokering to re-align critical boundary dissonances in multi-stakeholder networks. This thesis develops a framework and actionable tool to illustrate how boundary work helps researchers to understand complex stakeholder interactions in SBMI, how businesses can engage in the first steps of collaborative SBMI, and how intermediaries can better support businesses in their boundary work for SBMI.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • Kemp, Renatus, Supervisor
  • Bocken, Nancy, Supervisor
  • Bitzer, Verena, Co-Supervisor
Award date3 Oct 2022
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789464239850
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • sustainable business models
  • collaborative innovation
  • multi-stakeholder
  • boundary work

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