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From Business Model to Business Modelling: Modularity and Manipulation

Aversa, P., Haefliger, S., Rossi, A. & Baden-Fuller, C. (2015). From Business Model to Business Modelling: Modularity and Manipulation. Business Models and Modelling, 33, pp. 151-185. doi: 10.1108/s0742-332220150000033022


The concept of modularity has gained considerable traction in technology studies as a way to conceive, describe and innovate complex systems, such as product design or organizational structures. In the recent literature, technological modularity has often been intertwined with business model innovation, and scholarship has started investigating how modularity in technology affects changes in business models, both at the cognitive and activity system levels. Yet we still lack a theoretical definition of what modularity is in the business model domain. Business model innovation also encompasses different possibilities of modeling businesses, which are not clearly understood nor classified. We ask when, how and if modularity theory can be extended to business models in order to enable effective and efficient modeling. We distinguish theoretically between modularity for technology and for business models, and investigate the key processes of modularization and manipulation. We introduce the basic operations of business modeling via modular operators adapted from the technological modularity domain, using iconic examples to develop an analogical reasoning between modularity in technology and in business models. Finally, we discuss opportunities for using modularity theory to foster the understanding of business models and modeling, and develop a challenging research agenda for future investigations.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is © Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Publisher Keywords: business model, modeling, cognition, modularity, manipulation, decomposability
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
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