In September 2021, Jan Jonker (Radboud University) and Niels Faber (University of Groningen) launched their book ‘Organizing for Sustainability’ (Palgrave–MacMillan/Springer) to help entrepreneurs create a sustainable business model. In the book, they introduce and elaborate the Business Model Template, a template for business model development. The book offers a step-by-step approach in three phases and 10 steps to create a new or adopt an existing business model. The publication is Open Access, enabling anyone to download the eBook for free.
After only six months, an important milestone has been achieved: the first 100,000 copies of the eBook have been downloaded from the publisher’s website. The book originates from teaching the course Sustainable Entrepreneurship (at Radboud University, The Netherlands). Inspired by a Hackathon approach, the first, eight-pager provided a rough modelling tool to students as a means to frame and communicate their ideas about a sustainable business model. After two revisions, Jonker and Faber decided to develop this further into a book. With the aid of eleven co-authors, the eight-pager developed to the Dutch book ‘Duurzaam Organiseren’, which was published by the Boom Publishers (Amsterdam) and translated, edited, and adjusted for an international audience leading to ‘Organizing for Sustainability’. The book is written for educational and practical purposes, and suitable to all who are engaging with sustainability and wanting to organise the way we create value in a different manner.
The central assumption to focus on business models and their logic and building blocks, is that value creation is the result of organisations. After all, we live in a Western society in which everything we do is (partly) organized by others. We generally take this for granted. It means we can do 'our own thing' because much of what we need is made, taken care of or done by all kinds of organisations. We could even go as far as to say the it is literally impossible – at least in Western Society – to live outside organisation.
So, it is evident that in and through organisations we must achieve sustainability. Sustainability means as much as the same or more with less impact. So, to achieve sustainability, we need to use other raw materials for our products, generate green energy, produce less waste and - last but not least - contribute to biodiversity and social inclusiveness. Realising all these aims simultaneously means organising and doing business differently, with a focus on creating value to society. This requires a new generation of companies and entrepreneurs; after all, most of today's companies still have a 'business case' with monetized values at their core.
The success in terms of downloads shows two things. First, the book addresses a current topic, in such a way that it helps to face the societal challenges related to sustainability. Feedback is received through a variety of channels, showing that the book is received with great enthusiasm and interest. It is seen as structured, practical, and well-illustrated by cases and a variety of resources. It is currently used in teaching, by sustainable entrepreneurs and by policy makers alike. Second, the achieved milestone signifies the impact of Open Access research publications. It removes hurdles to anyone with an interest in academic works, thus helping to inform a much wider range of people then we have been used to.
Since the publication of Organizing for Sustainability, Jonker and Faber have also launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) based on it. The MOOC is also Open Access and hosted on the edX platform mooc.saxion.nl. In addition, in February 2022 the authors published the whitepaper ‘Circular Business Models’, providing an updated view on the variety of existing and future circular business models. The whitepaper is available on circulairemaakindustrie.nl.
Want to find out more about sustainable business (models)? Feel free to contact Niels Faber, em: n.r.faber(at)rug.nl
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