The Unfolding of Value Sources During Online Business Model Transformation


  • Nadja Hoßbach Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
  • Martin Wiener Bentley University,
  • Carol S. Saunders Northern Arizona University



Online business model, Business model dimensions and elements, Transformation process, Value sources, Magazine publishing industry, Case study


Purpose: In the magazine publishing industry, viable online business models are still rare to absent. To prepare for the ‘digital future’ and safeguard their long-term survival, many publishers are currently in the process of transforming their online business model. Against this backdrop, this study aims to develop a deeper understanding of (1) how the different building blocks of an online business model are transformed over time and (2) how sources of value creation unfold during this transformation process.

Methodology: To answer our research question, we conducted a longitudinal case study with a leading German business magazine publisher (called BIZ). Data was triangulated from multiple sources including interviews, internal documents, and direct observations.

Findings: Based on our case study, we nd that BIZ used the transformation process to differentiate its online business model from its traditional print business model along several dimensions, and that BIZ’s online business model changed from an efficiency- to a complementarity- to a novelty-based model during this process.

Research implications: Our findings suggest that different business model transformation phases relate to different value sources, questioning the appropriateness of value source-based approaches for classifying business models.

Practical implications: The results of our case study highlight the need for online-offline business model differentiation and point to the important distinction between service and product differentiation.

Originality: Our study contributes to the business model literature by applying a dynamic and holistic perspective on the link between online business model changes and unfolding value sources.