Defining Value in Sustainable Business Models

Cristina Neesham*, Krzysztof Dembek, Julia Benkert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Although the concept of value is central to sustainable business models (SBMs), the field has struggled to clarify what value is. SBM research accounts for multiple forms of value directed at multiple stakeholders. We argue that this diversity challenge should be addressed not by seeking a field-unifying definition of value but by developing methodological guidelines for a field-specific approach to defining value in SBM contexts. Based on Aristotelian logic and philosophical phenomenology of value, we develop an analytical framework that can be used for generating good definitions of value. We use this framework to explore approaches to value in extant SBM literature, highlight problematic patterns in applications of this concept, and suggest ways to avoid these patterns. The result is a guide to assist SBM researchers in exploring and defining value, and in applying their definitions consistently in theory building efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1378-1419
Number of pages42
JournalBusiness & Society
Issue number7
Early online date3 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023
Externally publishedYes

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