The Business Model Phenomenon: Towards Theoretical Relevance

John E. Prescott*, Igor Filatotchev

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


The popularity of the business model phenomenon has out paced its theoretical development. We argue that establishing construct clarity for the business model phenomenon is necessary before scholars and practitioners can answer foundational questions such as whether strategy and business models are different constructs and if so, the implications for practitioners, theory development and pedagogy. We advocate for a Theory-In-Use (TIU) approach to establish construct clarity. TIU is one approach to phenomenon-driven research used to co-create new knowledge by involving academics and practitioners, leveraging extant theoretical and empirical knowledge to position, describe and explain a phenomenon, and embraces constructionist and positivist epistemologies to map constructs on to a phenomenon. We overview the TIU approach and develop a hypothetical interview schedule for developing construct clarity for the business model phenomenon. Assuming that construct clarity is established, we identify promising research directions for two streams of business model research that are underdeveloped; international business and corporate governance. Our overarching goal is to stimulate research to advance the theoretical relevance of the business model phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-527
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Society for the Advancement of Management Studies and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • business models
  • construct clarity
  • strategy
  • theories in use
  • theory development

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