How does eco-innovation affect sustainable business model change? Case studies on green energy projects


  • Maria Rosa De Giacomo
  • Marco Frey



sustainable business model; business model change; eco-innovation; green energy projects


Purpose of the paper: The study analyzes how eco-innovations implemented by companies may change sustainable business models by affecting their economic performance.

Methodology: The paper is based on a case study of Enel, a multinational utility sector company, and refers to three innovative green energy projects.

Results: The analysis shows that the adoption of eco-innovative projects in sustainable energy affects sustainable business models. The main changes are related to customer sensing, value proposition, and the business model’s value chain and linkages components. The new value proposition usually consists of the green and sustainable value offered through the eco-innovation projects that determine novelties in the sustainable value proposed by the company. Innovations that affect the business model’s value chain and linkages components are mainly related to new relationships with partners and new competencies developed within Enel.

Research limits: The cases refer to just one company.

Practical implications: The study provides useful insights for companies and practitioners to understand whether and how the adoption of eco-innovation by companies changes their sustainable business models and how such aspects may affect the economic performance of companies.

The originality of the paper: This paper clarifies the relationships between innovative green projects and sustainable business model innovation by considering the different business models’ dimensions, which allows for a detailed analysis of their components. At the same time, the paper explores the effects of sustainable business model innovation on the company’s performance.


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