Purpose of the paper: Our aim in this paper is to describe and explain the flexibility offered by different business models adopted by different firms as they strive to achieve higher levels of business performance.
Research Method: Cross-sectional research is used to investigate a matched pair sample of 20 high performing and 20 low performing firms in the United Kingdom. The relationship between business model architectures and focus are examined and their implications for flexibility are illustrated and discussed.
Findings: The flexibility offered by different business models is explored through the way organisations select and integrate three inter-related elements to devise flexible business models: a) network influence b) transactional relationships and c) corporate ownership. Affected by situated practices in each business network and the market position or business size, companies select and integrate various configurations of these elements to respond to the constantly evolving demands of end-customers.
Research limitations/implications: Although based upon a cross-sectional analysis of a matched pair sample, the concept of “flexible business models” has far wider managerial implications. The efficiency of the proposed approach is achieved through the reduction into three inter-related elements that allow flexible configuration and re-adjustment.
Practical implications: Companies can use the flexible business model approach to examine their own selection and integration of network influence, transactional relationships and corporate ownership and scrutinize their flexibility and performance in the marketplace.
Value of the paper: The development of the flexible business models concept, based upon an empirical investigation of firms in the United Kingdom.