Doctoral dissertation, publicly defended on February 7th 2014 at Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing examined one of today’s buzzwords in business – business models. A lot of weight has been given on business models both in business research and practice – failures in commercializing technological innovations are often explained by unsuccessful business models. Research organizations and companies as well as financing bodies and other market actors find the term useful. Yet there is surprisingly little understanding on the use of business models.

The thesis examines the ways in which business models are used by market actors in the context of emerging technology-based services. Such services are developed, produced and marketed by multiple market actors forming business nets within wider networks and markets. In such nets, market actors aim to connect emerging technology-based services with potential markets. The business model is suggested to act as an analytical device for the actors to use in their activities.

By integrating business models into two contemporary discussions on networks and markets in marketing, the study widens the scope of the application of business models and explicates the variation in the use of business models. This study is interested in the dynamic, processual, and interactive nature of business models instead of their mere structure, requiring a research approach that allows the phenomenon be studied closely, longitudinally, and within its context. Hence, the study employs a qualitative multi-method approach for studying the use of business models.

The empirical setting of the study is based on two research projects: the UBI service pilot and the IT service development project, in which different types of market actors developed and tested new technology-based services. Using a variety of methods, such as interviews, observation, and Delphi questionnaires, data were gathered longitudinally on the activities of the actors in business nets and markets.

The results of the study show that business models can be used in multiple ways. They are used as structures and narratives to develop and stabilize business. Business models frame action at different interlinked levels (organization, net and market) in which business models are shared in relation to the past, present and future. Hence, the thesis explicates the business model concept by integrating it into the network approach and market studies literature in marketing, revealing novel perspectives on business models. The study also contributes to the network approach by explicating the nature and formation of business nets by examining the use of business models in business nets. Finally, the study adds to our understanding of market dynamics by incorporating the business model concept.

The thesis can be found at

Teea Palo
Postdoctoral researcher
Department of Marketing
Oulu Business School


Last updated: 30.4.2014

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