Open business models for future smart energy: A value perspective

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Arina Hall, TA105

Topic of the dissertation

Open business models for future smart energy: A value perspective

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science Yueqiang Xu

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Oulu Business School, Futuralis (Future of digital business)

Subject of study

International Business


Professor Paul Timmers, University of Oxford


Docent Petri Ahokangas, Martti Ahtisaari Institute, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu

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Open business models for future smart energy: A value perspective

Energy is essential for our lives and underpins all the key functions of society. However, our energy systems today are undergoing substantial changes. The growing energy demand and our dependence on fossil fuels have become an important issue faced by countries around the globe. Besides the technological developments in the field of renewables and smart grids for future smart energy, a significant weakness of our energy systems is their lack of social and economic perspectives, even though energy systems are often defined as techno-social systems. Through an extensive literature review of extant studies related to various aspects of energy and business model studies, this study has identified a major gap in that the business model and the value perspective have not been conceptualized with well-defined and holistic theoretical frameworks. Particularly, there is little understanding of the creation of open business models in digitalized industries, although the phenomenon is widespread in the real world. The main purpose of this research is to explore and understand the creation of open business models from the value perspective in the emerging smart energy ecosystem with a specific focus on value configurations. The study utilizes a system- and design-oriented action research approach and takes an energy innovation project funded by the European Union (EU) as the main data source. The results of the study are that: 1) the study proposes a holistic framework for the value perspective for (open) business models including value spaces, value configuration, and value complementarity. This is a major contribution to business model and management studies, and for the first time, it unifies the value thinking scattered throughout the existing literature; 2) the research provides an insight into how practitioners can conceptualize and approach the creation of open business models that are often enabled through digitalization; 3) the study contributes to the EU’s 2020 and 2030 energy and environmental targets. The research on new business models for the energy industry can assist in the implementation of new energy market development, policy instruments, and market regulations that promote the creation of smart grids, all of which are currently boosting jobs, economic growth, and environmental sustainability in Europe and elsewhere.
Last updated: 1.3.2023