What are Business Models? Developing a Theory of Performative Representations

Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 29, pp. 269-279, 2010

16 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2010 Last revised: 1 May 2010

Markus Perkmann

Imperial College London

Andre Spicer

University of Warwick - Industrial Relations & Organisational Behaviour (IROB) Subject Group

Date Written: February 18, 2010

Abstract

Despite a rich extant literature, it is unclear what business models are. We assess three dominant conceptions of business models in the academic literature: as transactional structures, value extracting devices, and mechanisms for structuring the organization. To overcome the shortcomings of these approaches, we draw on theories of performativity, social typecasting, and managerial cognition. We propose an alternative conception of business models as performative representations that work in three ways: as narratives that convince, typifications that legitimate, and recipes that guide social action. Rather than actual features of firms, business models are representations that allow managers to articulate and instantiate the value of new technologies.

Keywords: Business models

Suggested Citation

Perkmann, Markus and Spicer, Andre, What are Business Models? Developing a Theory of Performative Representations (February 18, 2010). Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 29, pp. 269-279, 2010 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1554845

Markus Perkmann (Contact Author)

Imperial College London ( email )

Business School
London SW7 2AZ, DC SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Andre Spicer

University of Warwick - Industrial Relations & Organisational Behaviour (IROB) Subject Group ( email )

Coventry, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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