Bridging sustainable business model innovation and user-driven innovation: A process for sustainable value proposition design

B. Baldassarre, Giulia Calabretta*, Nancy Bocken, Tomasz Jaskiewicz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)
1536 Downloads (Pure)


With an increasing population, a growing middle class and increased resource use, our current ways of living and doing business are unsustainable. Next to the implementation of innovative technology, sustainable development based on innovative business models, better understating of customer needs and behavioural change are crucial. This research aims at combining principles from both sustainable business model innovation and user-driven innovation to develop more successful, radical and user-centred sustainable value propositions. Sustainable business model innovation entails developing value propositions that create value for multiple stakeholders at the same time, including customers, shareholders, suppliers and partners as well as the environment and society. User-driven innovation allows developing solutions that are meaningful for people and profitable for business by involving potential customers, users and/or other stakeholders in an experimental and iterative design process. The study adopts a research through design methodology, a qualitative research approach that uses design practice to inform research. To this end, a design project in the framework of the Climate-KIC (the largest European partnership addressing the challenge of climate change) was investigated. As a result, this paper proposes a process for sustainable value proposition design which adopts a thorough, dynamic and iterative perspective (talking to stakeholders, thinking about the problem, testing the product/service) that leads to an actual sustainable value proposition and to a superior problem-solution fit. In practice, managers are provided with an initial methodological framework for mapping and understanding the stakeholders in a broad sense (including and especially users), identifying their needs and interests, and progressively combining them into a more meaningful and enriching value proposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-186
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Accepted author manuscript


  • Business design
  • Lean startup
  • Service design
  • Sustainable business model innovation
  • User centred design
  • Value proposition


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