Reinventing business models: How firms cope with disruption

Reinventing Business Models: How Firms Cope with Disruption

Now available at Oxford University Press: click here to obtain your copy

Henk Volberda, Frans van Den Bosch, and Kevin Heij

Although research on business model innovation is flourishing internationally, important questions on the ‘how’, ‘what’, and ‘when’ of this process remain largely unanswered, particularly in regard to the role of top management. Using new knowledge derived from a survey among firms from various industries and several case studies, the book Reinventing Business Models: How Firms Cope with Disruption (Oxford University Press, 2018) seeks to give us better understanding of ‘how’ firms can innovate their business model, ‘what ‘ kind of levers management should work on, and ‘when’ management should change the business model. It particularly considers one key question: is it better to replicate existing models or to develop new ones? Renewal is especially vital in highly competitive environments. Nonetheless, whatever the environment, high levels of both replication and renewal will be key for a firm to succeed. We look at four levers that can be used by managers to innovate their business model: management itself, organizational form, technology, and co-creation with external parties. Furthermore, specific combinations which strengthen business model innovation are analysed. To help firms, the book also explores the different factors that can either enable or inhibit business model innovation.  Through an investigation of replication versus renewal and strategy-driven versus client-driven change, four distinct modes of business model innovation are identified: exploit and improve (replication which is strategy-driven); exploit and connect (replication which is customer-driven); explore and connect (renewal which is customer-driven); and explore and dominate (renewal which is strategy-driven). The book ends with a list of managerial dos and don’ts for business model innovation,

The discussion and case studies presented in this book have provided some insights into the paths that firms might take to transform their business models, and which levers may be the most helpful to them in that process. But, of course, you may still have your own questions about the best route for you. How do you reinvent your business model? Are you really facing disruption? What levers are most effective for developing a new business model? And what are the specific enablers or inhibitors of business model innovation in your company?

To assist you in this, we have therefore developed an online tool to support you in your attempts to innovate your business model. This scan provides you valuable feedback on how to reinvent your business model, be it replication, renewal, or a combination of the two. In line with the book, the online tool focusses on the two basic types of business model innovation, i.e. replication and renewal, and the four levers of business model innovation (management itself, organizational structure, technology, and co-creation with external parties). The tool also explores the different factors that can either enable or inhibit business model innovation. It also looks at whether your firm’s business model innovation is more strategy-driven or more customer-driven. This Business Model Innovation Scan can be found at

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Try the online business model innovation scan for yourself. Free of charge for single users!


“A great book that de-mystifies business model innovation. In the first part, the authors explain the critical difference between replicating an existing business model to exploit past success and business model renewal that breaks new ground harnessing novel customer trends and new technologies. The authors identify why this separation of business model innovation into two paths is a novel but essential concept, and the organisational structures associated with effective results. The authors go further, in the second part they outline the leadership challenge associated with each path identifying the agenda and roles of different actors, and the necessary culture and process that will make things happen. This book is a must read for CEOs and boards of directors, especially those of established companies in older industries.” – Charles Baden-Fuller, Centenary Professor of Strategy, Cass Business School, City, University of London

“For CEOs operating in today’s fast-paced world, the biggest challenge is knowing when and how to reinvent their business modeltheir formula for making money. This book, Reinventing Business Models provides the most detailed and compelling analysis to date of how to do this. Combining careful academic thinking with practical examples, it is a must-read guide for any educator, student or businessperson who wants to understand the secrets of corporate success in a disruptive world.'” – Julian Birkinshaw, Deputy Dean and Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, London Business School

“This book provides an extensive and rigorous analysis of the imperatives and mechanisms for businesses to refresh their business models, building on numerous examples and case studies. For many companies this is a highly topical question as they face almost certain disruptions from technology development; the book reminds them to remain alert also to broader potential drivers of disruption, and to consider how responses must combine technology, management, organisation and partnerships to be most effective.'” – Ruth Cairnie, Non-Executive Director at Rolls-Royce Holdings plc, Associated British Foods plc and Keller Group plc and former Executive Vice President for Strategy and Planning at Shell

Reinventing Business Models provides significant research on business renewal and replication. This book provides unique thought provoking insights to the need to change and when and how to alter a firm’s business model. It gives key requirements of management practices and the culture necessary to successfully alter a company’s direction. Overall, the book is a great foundation for business model formulation in our rapidly changing business environment.” – Murray Deal,Vice-President EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America at Eastman Chemical Company

“Business models go out of date increasingly fast. You really have to read this book to change your business model successfully.” – Guido Dierick, CEO, NXP Semiconductors Netherlands

“Business model innovation is a very challenging phenomenon. Practitioners agree that it is immensely important; yet, academic researchers have had little sound advice to offer on the subject. Volberda,Van den Bosch and Heijs new book means that this is changing: They offer clear conceptualizations, highly relevant theory, and numerous examples. A breakthrough and a milestone in a field that is crucially important, but still very much an emerging one!” – Nicolai Foss, Professor of Organization Theory and Human Resource Management, Bocconi University

“In today’s economy, firms are confronted with disruptions in markets and technologies and erosion of their business models. The authors of Reinventing Business Models show perfectly that developing a new business model requires more than adopting new technologies. This inspiring book provides groundbreaking new insights for management scholars as well as new tools to help managers cope successfully with disruption in their industries.” – Vijay Govindarajan, Coxe Distinguished Professor at Tuck at Dartmouth & Marvin Bower Fellow at Harvard Business School

“In incomparable style, Reinventing Business Models shows what happens behind the scenes when you change your business model.” – Goof Hamers, Former CEO and President, Vanderlande Industries

“We all know the brands which were far ahead of competitors in their sector until a disruptor appeared on the market. This book will help you stay ahead of the game.” – Leon He, President Western Europe Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

Reinventing Business Models is a thorough and academically-rigorous book that examines how a firm can reinvent its business model. It provides a clear and managerially focused roadmap on how to do this in practice and brings out several lessons of what works and what doesn’t. In this age of disruption, organizations of any size and from any sector will find it required reading.” – Costas Markides, Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, Holder of the Robert Bauman Chair of Strategic Leadership, London Business School

Reinventing Business Models inspires and encourages managers to take action and to reflect.” – Hans Smits, CEO Janssen de Jong Groep, Non-Executive Director at Air France-KLM

“Adapting to a changing world survival of the fittest calls for continual re-invention of your own business model and presents a major leadership challenge. This book can help you in this.” – Feike Sijbesma, CEO, DSM

“Highly recommended for managers who want to grow and develop their organizations.” – Jeffrey Tierie, Former CEO Claymount Technologies Group

Reinventing Business Models is an important contribution to both academics as well as practicing managers. In this well researched, argued, and written book, Volberda, Van den Bosch, and Heij present a compelling point of view on how, when, and why organizations build capabilities to both replicate and renew. This book presents fresh data and induces fresh ideas on the roots of dynamic capabilities. It is one of those rare books that is both insightful and pragmatic. This book belongs on both the academic’s desk and in the manager’s office.” – Michael Tushman, Paul R. Lawrence, MBA Class of 1942 Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

“The book gives a good picture of how managers can achieve the two variants of business model innovation: refining and renewing.” – Carlo van de Weijer, Vice-President Traffic Solutions, TomTom