Greenwashing: A Broken Business Model


  • Esben Rahbek Gjerdrum Pedersen CBS
  • Kirsti Reitan Andersen Copenhagen business School



Is greenwashing a business model? The paper is a conceptual effort to advance the discussions of greenwashing though the lenses of business model thinking. We argue that the business model literature can offer a useful supplement to the existing conceptualisations of greenwashing by linking talk-action disconnects to the broader business architecture. Essentially, greenwashing is considered as a broken business model, which characterizes organisations that deliberately disconnect the promises to the stakeholders (i.e. value proposition) from the underlying business architecture. We also argue that the concept of greenwashing can contribute to the business model literature by drawing attention to organisations with imperfect business architectures, which fail to deliver on the value proposition communicated to their stakeholders. Fundamentally, greenwashing calls attention to the multitude of organisations with limited integration between the individual building blocks of a business model.