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An empirical study of a cross-industry and cross-sectoral (public-private) open business model : a journey through the value creating open practices and praxis of boundary-spanning practitioners

Coombes, Philip Harley


Philip Harley Coombes


John D. Nicholson

Graham Spickett-Jones

Stephan Dahl

David R. Harness


This study is grounded in the perspective of strategy-as-practice and draws, principally, on literature from strategy, industrial marketing (IM) and business models (BMs). In recent years, the BM concept has attracted increasing attention from scholars in a variety of academic disciplines and areas of professional practice. Much empirical BM research across all disciplines appears to focus on single organisation studies. This approach, arguably, provides a rather parochial view of BMs. In this study, I contend that a BM represents more than just the revenue model of a single firm, but rather views BMs as a broader, pluralistic concept that has the potential to be deployed by practitioners in a network context. I present an early contribution to open business model (OBM) literature - those BMs in which value is created/co-created and captured between actors outside the boundaries of a single firm - in this thesis. The empirical setting for the study is centred on three firms that form a single (focal) cross-industry and cross-sectoral (public-private) OBM (focal OBM). In particular, the three firms, which comprise a lead (hub) firm as an OBM innovator, a supplier firm and a buyer firm, form a supply chain through from upstream supplier to downstream end user. This supply chain takes in and considers a public and private sector downstream dyadic, a vertical upstream supply chain buyer-supplier dyad, as well as the broader strategic network and business ecosystem contexts of the three firms in a solutions provision arrangement. A qualitative, inductive, case study methodology is deployed to examine the three firms as embedded units of analysis. The data sources consist of twenty-five semi-structured interviews supplemented by archives of publications. In this study, I make theoretical contributions to OBM literature by advancing current understanding of OBMs in a cross-industry and cross-sectoral (public-private) context. The underlying assumption that existing studies provide only single-level insight into BMs is challenged. In particular, I contribute to BM literature by offering multi-level insight into an OBM as a regional strategic network, a network that also forms part of a national platform ecosystem. Furthermore, as a challenge to this predominant static understanding of BMs, I also make practical contributions by advancing current understanding by examining OBMs as strategic practice, thus breaking with the rhetorical nature of much BM literature. By focusing on practitioners and their capabilities in OBMs, this approach, therefore, addresses partially the under-socialisation of current
BM research and adds insight into the open practices of these practitioners within OBMs. In particular, I offer insight into value creation/co-creation and value capture, as strategic practice. As the focal OBM crosses industry and sectoral boundaries, I also advance knowledge where it is currently lacking into the influence of boundary-spanning practitioners in OBMs.

[Includes published article available at:]


Coombes, P. H. (2017). An empirical study of a cross-industry and cross-sectoral (public-private) open business model : a journey through the value creating open practices and praxis of boundary-spanning practitioners. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 22, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Oct 1, 2017


Thesis (2.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 Coombes, Philip Harley. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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