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Building Partnerships for more sustainable, resilient and regenerative business models

Introduction to the New Business Models 2023 Conference proceedings

Published onJun 21, 2023
Building Partnerships for more sustainable, resilient and regenerative business models
Edited by:
dr. Abel Diaz Gonzalez (Conference Chair)
Assistant Professor, Department of Organisation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Prof. dr. Juliette Koning
Professor of Business in Society. Head of Department of Organisation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Prof. dr. Nancy Bocken, Professor in Sustainable Business. Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI)


Welcome to the proceedings of the 2023 International Conference on New Business Models (NBM 2023). Our conference brought together a multidisciplinary community of scholars and industry leaders who are at the forefront of exploring innovative ways of developing the next generation of business models driving sustainable and responsible growth. This 8th edition of the NBM annual conference, hosted by the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University, served as a platform for exchanging knowledge, ideas, and experiences, in a new emerging field, New Business Models. Exploring new business models has emerged as a promising avenue for organizations to address these complex issues while creating value for both their stakeholders and society at large.

Our era is marked by unprecedented global challenges (e.g., climate change, resource scarcity, lack of clean water, and socio-economic disparities), and therefore there is an urgent need for new approaches to business that go beyond the traditional profit-focused mindset. Most of the contributions included in these proceedings recognize the crucial role of more sustainable and responsible business models in fostering innovation, resilience, regeneration and inclusivity across various industries and sectors.

These open-source, peer-reviewed conference proceedings combine abstracts and papers that have been accepted for presentation during the NBM 2023. These manuscripts, many of them soon to be published in different scientific outlets, offer the opportunity to explore different types of contributions focusing mostly on the design, implementation, and evaluation of new business models, exploring how they can be harnessed to drive positive societal change. The proceedings also highlight successful case studies that showcase real-world applications of new business models in Europe as well as in the Global South, demonstrating their potential to create sustainable value, foster collaboration, and address pressing global challenges.

Responding to our call for papers, this year's manuscripts included in the proceedings bring insights from a wide range of topics, including business model innovation, sustainability and resilience, circular economy business models and their potential for resource efficiency, waste reduction, and value creation. The proceedings showcase the depth and breadth of research being conducted in these areas, contributing to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities in creating sustainable, responsible, and transformative business models. By disseminating these research ideas and findings, the proceedings aim to inspire further exploration and collaboration among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, ultimately driving the adoption of innovative and impactful business practices that promote long-term value creation and societal well-being.

The manuscripts included in our conference proceedings of NBM 2023 are already signalling several areas of future research in the domain of new and sustainable business models. These include, among many others, topics such as circular economy, business model innovation, sustainability and resilience, stakeholder engagement, social impact measurement, cross-sector collaboration, human-centric design, the role and amplitude of ecosystems and the potential of its support structures. We discuss some of these avenues for future research in detail below.

The need of continuing our exploration of circular economy business models and their potential for resource efficiency, waste reduction, and value creation proves to be timely and particularly central for the NBM community. Investigating the design principles, implementation challenges, and performance outcomes of circular business models would contribute to advancing circular economy practices across industries. Additionally, understanding the synergies and trade-offs between circular economy principles and other sustainability dimensions, such as social equity and environmental impact, including resource constrained environments, could provide valuable insights for designing holistic and sustainable business models.

The measurement of sustainability outcomes is key. We need to continue exploring the different mechanisms to identify sustainable revenue streams and develop strategies for enhancing organizational resilience in the face of environmental and social disruptions. These aspects can be approached from the perspective of business model innovation, which can provide guidance to organizations seeking to adapt and evolve in a dynamic business landscape, where sustainability and resilience become rather centric.

Effective stakeholder engagement continues to be highlighted as significant in new business models. Further research can be devoted to examining strategies for engaging diverse stakeholders, (such as government institutions, communities, NGO’s, academic institutions, media, etc) and understanding their role in co-creating value and driving social impact. This is certainly relevant for large organizations (such as multinationals) that potentially need to transform their unsustainable business models supported by sustainability goals influenced by stakeholders, but also for small businesses, and local family firms. For social and sustainable enterprises, the challenge might relate to finding a financially viable and scalable business model.

In terms of regeneration, further research can explore the principles, practices, and outcomes of such novel models across industries. Understanding the enabling conditions, barriers, and strategies for scaling up regenerative business models would benefit organizations aiming to transition to more sustainable practices (including small and large-scale businesses). In addition, we need to continue studying how to design and implement regenerative business models that can efficiently adapt to environmental and social challenges.

Finally, also the role of policy and regulation in facilitating the adoption and diffusion of new business models needs examination. Future research is needed to explore regulatory barriers and enablers, and how this can lead to developing supportive policy frameworks for new and more sustainable businesses. The assessment of the impact of policy interventions to promote sustainable and responsible practices remains key in this direction. In addition to this, advancing methodologies and frameworks for measuring impact (social, sustainable) in new business models is essential. More empirical research, with novel methodological approaches, is needed to further understand how to better integrate social impact indicators into the business model design, develop tailored measurement practices, and evaluate the long-term social outcomes of new business models.

By addressing these research areas, scholars and practitioners can contribute to the advancement of knowledge and practices in new business models, promoting sustainable, responsible, and impactful approaches in diverse industries and sectors.

The 8th Edition of the NBM Conference at a glance.

The 8th NBM conference took place at the School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University, from June 21st to 23. For this conference, we have received 203 submissions, of which 171 were accepted for presentation in the conference program. This year the conference used a hybrid format, welcoming 273 participants onsite in Maastricht while 51 participants attended online. Participants are affiliated to 41 different countries. The conference featured 15 different conference tracks exploring new business models from a system, sectoral and organizational level, new business models and organizational impact and theoretical and methodological foundations of investigating new business models. Our conference program also included 2 plenary sessions and 2 workshops.

Plenary sessions and Keynote Speakers

Our opening plenary session featured 2 keynote speakers. The opening keynote Speaker was Mr. John Elkington, father of the Tripple Bottom line concept and an award-winning world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable capitalism, a bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. Mr. Elkington is the founder and chief pollinator of Volans (UK), which works with leaders to make sense of the emergent future to unlock the potential of their organisation. Mr. Elkington keynote was entitled: Green Swans: Next Generation Economic and Business Models. he has addressed over 1,000 conferences globally and has served on over 70 boards and advisory boards. He is the author or co-author of 20 books, the latest being Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism.

During the opening plenary, we also had the privilege of hearing from Mrs. Suzanne Wisse-Huiskes, a member of the Investment Committee of the InvestEU Fund (The Netherlands). Mrs. Wisse-Huiskes shared insights on "Unleashing the Power of Multisector Partnerships in Impact Investing." With expertise in social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, and impact investment, she has actively supported impact entrepreneurs and investors across Europe and Africa. As the former CEO of Euclid, the European Social Enterprise Network, she played a crucial role in its growth and success. Mrs. Wisse-Huiskes has served on numerous boards and advisory boards, including the European Commission expert group on social enterprise. She is also involved in various incubators and initiatives focused on innovation and entrepreneurship.

Our closing plenary session centered around a panel discussion titled "The Role of Universities in Building Partnerships for More Sustainable, Resilient, and Regenerative Business Models." Moderated by Prof. dr. Juliette Koning, co-organizer of the NBM 2023 conference, the panel aimed to explore the different roles universities can play in fostering partnerships for sustainable business models, moving beyond the traditional triple helix approach. We discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by universities in driving sustainability and responsible business practices through collaborations with industry and other stakeholders.

Our distinguished panel members during the closing plenary were:

  • Prof. dr. Mariëlle G. Heijltjes, Dean School of Business and Economics (SBE) at Maastricht University; professor of Managerial Behaviour.

  • Prof. dr. Karoline Frankenberger, Academic Director Executive MBA HSG; Director Institute of Management and Strategy, School of Management, University of St. Gallen (Switzerland);

  • Prof. dr. Nancy Bocken, Professor in Sustainable Business, Maastricht Sustainability Institute, and co-organizer of the NBM 2023 conference.

Special Acknowledgements

We would like to express our gratitude to the NBM board members (Florian Lüdeke-Freund, Romana Rauter, Niels Faber, and Maya Hoveskog) for entrusting Maastricht University with the organization of this edition of the conference. We extend our thanks to our colleagues at the School of Business and Economics for their financial and administrative support, which made this conference a reality. In this regard, we are very grateful for all the support from our colleagues at the Department of Organization, Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Maastricht Sustainability Institute and the Circular X project.

This conference has only been possible thanks to the dedicated support we received from all track chairs of this conference. We would like to thank them for their leadership, scientific support, and coordination of all the different conference tracks and for their enthusiasm for creating engaging sessions within our conference. We are pleased to note the participation of more than 90 doctoral students, a significant number that shows the growing interest in our community. We would like to thank all the mentors of the doctoral colloquium, as well as the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS) for their financial support in organizing the colloquium during our conference. Special thanks go to the doctoral colloquium organizers Maya Hoveskog, Niels Faber, and Philippe Eiselein.

We would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Maastricht University Press in developing the conference proceedings, with special thanks to Ron Aardening and Michel Saive. We express our gratitude to Olivia Carvalhal for her support in compiling and organizing all the submissions.

Furthermore, we would like to recognize the financial support received from the Maastricht Convention Bureau and University Fund Limburg SWOL for this conference. Our heartfelt appreciation also goes to all the student volunteers who dedicated their time to ensuring the professional hosting of this event on our campus. Lastly, we extend our gratitude to Adela Buttolo and Anita Weijzen from the Department of Organization, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship, who invested an immense amount of energy and time to bring this conference to life.

We hope that these proceedings will serve as a valuable resource for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and all those interested in exploring the transformative potential of new business models. By disseminating the latest research findings and sharing practical insights, we aim to foster collaboration and stimulate dialogue, ultimately driving the adoption of sustainable and responsible business practices that create long-term value for society.

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