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Doktorsavhandling, 2023

Change for sustainable agricultural business. Addressing business model transformation and sustainable value creation

Sadovska, Vera


Society is facing global challenges, such as poverty and climate change, that affect entire ecosystems and human communities. Many sustainability challenges arise from existing production and consumption patterns, and thus many believe that business transformation to sustainability is essential to solving global socio-ecological problems. Understanding how sustainable business models are configured, and why companies adopt them, can be a pathway to system transformation. However, because of the complexity of sustainability challenges, they resist simple solutions and require innovative approaches. This thesis explored the potential for transformation to sustainability from the viewpoint of business model transformation in agri-food businesses, to understand why and how transformation happens, and how it can be facilitated at systems level. The focus on businesses in the agri-food sector was chosen to improve understanding of sustainable value creation in the agricultural and food production sector by transformation of business models to include sustainability. 

Creation of sustainable value through transformation of agricultural business models for sustainability, which act as a unifying structure for policy implementation by integrating the strategic, procedural and operational activities of a business, was analysed. The results revealed managerial, organisational and inter-organisational processes related to this transformation, which were further conceptualised. Examination of the concept of value in the agri-food sector and the business models of agri-food companies revealed a multiplicity of value creation activities, a range of motives for sustainable business model transformation and interconnectivity between companies and their surrounding environment. 

Overall, the results showed that sustainability can be placed at the core of an organisation. A novel contribution to the conceptual domain was creation of a new framework for sustainable value creation in the agri-food sector. This framework emphasises the need for simultaneous and equal integration of economic, social and environmental principles of sustainable development in value creation logic. It builds on the open character of sustainable business models and recognises theimportance of inter-organisational interactions to navigate transformation to sustainability. In particular, the framework promotes a more contextualised perspective on business model research, paying particular attention to multi-stakeholder interactions, learning, leadership and individual beliefs of key decision-makers.


business models; sustainability transitions; sustainable value; agriculture; SME; farms; innovations; context; Sweden; agri-food

Publicerad i

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2023, nummer: 2023:27
ISBN: 978-91-8046-106-1, eISBN: 978-91-8046-107-8
Utgivare: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ forskningsämne

    Business Administration
    Agricultural Science

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