Conceptualising Business Models: Definitions, Frameworks and Classifications


  • Erwin Fielt Queensland University of Technology



business model, business model classification, business model concept, business model definition, business model element, business model framework, customer value, value creation


The business model concept is gaining traction in different disciplines but is still criticized for being fuzzy and vague and lacking consensus on its definition and compositional elements. In this paper we set out to advance our understanding of the business model concept by addressing three areas of foundational research: business model definitions, business model elements, and business model archetypes. We define a business model as a representation of the value logic of an organization in terms of how it creates and captures customer value. This abstract and generic definition is made more specific and operational by the compositional elements that need to address the customer, value proposition, organizational architecture (firm and network level) and economics dimensions. Business model archetypes complement the definition and elements by providing a more concrete and empirical understanding of the business model concept. The main contributions of this paper are (1) explicitly including the customer value concept in the business model definition and focussing on value creation, (2) presenting four core dimensions that business model elements need to cover, (3) arguing for flexibility by adapting and extending business model elements to cater for different purposes and contexts (e.g. technology, innovation, strategy) (4) stressing a more systematic approach to business model archetypes by using business model elements for their description, and (5) suggesting to use business model archetype research for the empirical exploration and testing of business model elements and their relationships.