Explaining the leopards’ spots: Responsibility-embedding in business model artefacts across spaces of institutional complexity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article explores the phenomenon that corporations’ commercial-logic business models increasingly embed responsibility-logic patterns: The proverbial leopards’ spots. We have conducted a thematic analysis of responsibility patterns in annual report business model descriptions (artefacts) and a qualitative comparative analysis of corporations’ strategic environment. We find distinct responsibility patterns, uniquely combined in four distinct types of responsibility business model artefacts. We explain these types through responses to institutional complexity between commercial and responsibility logics. Strategic responses were enabled or constrained by the characteristics of the varying spaces of institutional complexity of particular corporations. We contribute to an emerging heterogeneous business model literature by providing empirical evidence. We contribute to the institutional discussion of corporate responsibility by providing a typology of responsibility business
models and by explaining why each type emerged in their respective institutional space. We also discuss how practitioners’ efforts to embed responsibility into their business models may benefit from our findings.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalLong Range Planning
Early online date10 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019