Special Issue "Business Model Innovation for Sustainability: Bridging the Design-Implementation Gap"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 March 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Cherif Guermat
Guest Editor
Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance; the University of the West of England, Bristol, BS16 1QY, United Kingdom
Interests: asset pricing; inflation accounting; credit management; risk management; innovation and higher education; international business
Dr. Boumediene Ramdani
Guest Editor
Centre for Entrepreneurship, College of Business & Economics, Qatar University, P.O. Box 2713, Doha, Qatar
Interests: digital transformation; business model innovation; sustainability

Special Issue Information

It is now widely accepted that the social responsibility of organizations is to create value for all stakeholders. To that end, many organizations have started changing their business models to incorporate social and environmental concerns (Schaltegger et al., 2016). Business model innovation for sustainability (BMIfS) has been advocated as one of the strategic options for organizations to build resilient business models and seize additional value creation opportunities (Geissdoerfer et al., 2018). BMIfS can be achieved through altering existing business models, creating additional business models, and/or starting-up completely new business models. Although the design of BMIfS has not been an issue, organizations often fail to implement BMIfS because of the enduring tensions between complex economic, environmental, and social concerns (Hahn et al., 2014). This is referred to as the “design-implementation gap” in the literature (Lemus-Aguilar et al., 2019; Geissdoerfer et al., 2018). Although BMIfS research has attracted much attention, the question of how to bridge the design-implementation gap of BMIfS remains unanswered. Thus, this Special Issue is to inviting scholars to examine how organizations perform BMIfS and under what conditions the design-implementation gap of BMIfS can be bridged.

Theoretical and empirical contributions are welcomed to address the following questions on BMIfS:

Challenges: How do organizations balance tensions between complex economic, environmental, and social concerns? What are the barriers that hinder the implementation of BMIfS? What are the factors that influence the implementation of BMIfS? What business modeling tools and methods can facilitate the design and implementation of BMIfS?

Strategies: What strategies do organizations undertake to achieve BMIfS? What are the different types of BMIfS? Do different types of BMIfS require different strategies?

Process: What is unique about the process of BMIfS compared to other business model innovations? What are the phases that organizations go through when undertaking BMIfS? What are the activities and practices involved in each phase? Which activities and practices bridge the design-implementation gap?

Impact: What is the impact of BMIfS on organizational operations and business processes? Does BMIfS improve or hinder organizational performance? What is the impact of BMIfS on the ecosystems?


Geissdoerfer, M., Vladimirova, D., & Evans, S. (2018). Sustainable business model innovation: A review. Journal of Cleaner Production198, 401–416.

Hahn, T., Preuss, L., Pinkse, J., & Figge, F. (2014). Cognitive frames in corporate sustainability: Managerial sensemaking with paradoxical and business case frames. Academy of Management Review, 39(4), 463–487.

Lemus-Aguilar, I., Morales-Alonso, G., Ramirez-Portilla, A., & Hidalgo, A. (2019). Sustainable Business Models through the Lens of Organizational Design: A Systematic Literature Review. Sustainability11(19), 5379.

Schaltegger, S., Hansen, E. G., & Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2016). Business models for sustainability: Origins, present research, and future avenues. Organization & Environment, 29(1), 3–10.

Dear Colleagues, 

Business model innovation for sustainability (BMIfS) has been recognised as one of the strategic options available to organizations willing to build resilient business models and seize additional value creation opportunities. Although BMIfS design has not been an issue, organizations often fail to implement BMIfS. Thus, Special Issue is inviting contributions on how organizations perform BMIfS and under what conditions the design-implementation gap of BMIfS can be bridged. 

This Special Issue will publish high-quality empirical and theoretical papers on BMIfS challenges, strategies, processes, and impacts.

Prof. Cherif Guermat
Dr. Boumediene Ramdani
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • business model
  • innovation
  • sustainability
  • design-implementation gap

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
Back to TopTop