Student authentication

Is it the first time you are entering this system?
Use the following link to activate your id and create your password.
»  Create / Recover Password



Learning Objectives

A business model represents a set of strategic decisions that establish how companies create, transfer and acquire value based on their internal activities and their relationships with stakeholders, including suppliers and customers Business Model (BM) design therefore represents a strategic priority for companies. The ecological transition requires companies to adapt their business model or create a new one. By studying Sustainable and Circular Business Model Innovation (SBMI, CBMI, SCBMI), new variables are added to the traditional Business Model Innovation (BMI), such as, for example, reverse logistics, customer perceptions and preferences regarding products second-hand, remanufactured and refurbished, the closure of cycles, regeneration, sharing, value optimization, virtualization, servitization, Life Cycle Thinking, Design Thinking, systemic thinking.
Sustainable business models aim to generate multiple environmental, social and economic benefits, rather than to reduce and minimize negative impacts on the environment and society, and in doing so create a more stable relationship of trust with all the players in the value chain, acquiring a more stable position in the markets in which they operate. Sustainable business models determine a sustainable and circular use of resources, in all phases of the value chain and are supported by disruptive technologies (i.e. digital, e.g. Internet of Things, big data, blockchain and RFID; physical, e.g. 3D printing, robotics, energy storage and collection, modular design technology, nanotechnology; biological, e.g. bioenergy, bio- materials, biocatalysis). The sustainable and circular business models are favoured by the presence of cultural and behavioural enabling factors, both at the level of individuals and organizations, such as dynamic capabilities, attitude for change, adaptability and resilience.
The course will deal with all these issues providing students with an advanced knowledge of sustainability and circularity, highlighting the integration of these approaches in new business models, the role of leadership and new types of entrepreneurship in sustainable innovation processes, the importance of metrics for the evaluation of performance and impact, the nature and functioning of the tools to support innovation, the role that new technologies can play in the ecological transition process. In detail, the training objectives are:
• Understand and evaluate the role of business models in transformation processes, such as ecological transition;
• Understand and evaluate sustainable and circular business strategies;
• Recognize the role of innovation in the development of business models;
• Knowing how to use the tools for sustainable and circular innovation;
• Understand and recognize the role of information and new technologies in sustainable innovation processes;
• Understand and recognize the role of collaboration in sustainable innovation processes;
• Understand, evaluate and analyze the role of measurement systems in monitoring, controlling and improving performance in favor of the resilience and sustainability of new business models;
• Understand and recognize the importance of Leadership Styles and Sustainable Enterpreneurship in the design and implementation of sustainable and circular business models;
• Understand and recognize the dynamics of systemic transformation in the sustainable innovation processes of business models.

Know and understand the dynamics that support the innovation of business models towards sustainability objectives, as well as the enabling factors and management and control tools

Knowing how to use the tools and management approaches that support the adaptation of existing business models as well as the adoption of new business models

Knowing how to identify and evaluate the capacity of businesses’ strategies to face with complexity at market and system levels

Strengthening communication skills thanks to collaborative learning, work group and in class presentations

Strengthening critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating


no pre-requisites


The first two hours will be dedicated to provide an overview of the entire course; group work and individual work will be explained and assigned, as well as the final exam and assessment methods for attending and non-attending students will be illustrated. The next ten hours (phase 1) focus on the key concepts of Sustainability and Circularity and on the specificities of the Sustainable and Circular Business Model Innovation. In this first part of the course, the key concepts of sustainability and circularity will be analyzed and understood and the link that exists between the processes of innovation and those of change that the ecological transition requires will be highlighted. All these aspects will be presented and discussed from a point of view of the main theories, as well as from a practical point of view. During this first part, a company presentation will be organized, aimed at presenting the drivers, barriers and challenges of sustainable and circular strategic innovation processes. During this first part students will be assigned group work aimed at understanding the role of sustainable and circular business models in the dynamic of transition that European and international policies are triggering.
The second twelve hours of the course (phase 2) focus on the development of business strategies, with particular reference to business model innovation and innovation for sustainability. Different types of business models and strategies will be presented and analyzed, in order to understand their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the impacts at the system level, according to the different components of sustainability (economic, social and environmental). Particular attention will be given to the management of the value chain, as an essential element for business continuity, competitiveness, resilience of organizations, sustainability and innovation of products and services. In this context, the role of new technologies and digital transformation will be highlighted, in support of corporate performance, and the collection and exchange of traceable, reliable, clear and replicable information, fundamental prerequisites for the creation and co-creation of value. Also in this part of the course a company testimony will be presented with particular reference to frontier experiences from the point of view of circular and innovative business models. Students will be given specific teaching cases, again in small groups, which will be appropriately presented and discussed in class. In this part of the course, aspects related to Leadership, Systemic Innovation for Sustainability, Sustainable Enterpreneurship will also be analyzed and discussed.

The last twelve hours of the course (phase 3) will focus on measuring and evaluating sustainable innovations. Approaches and challenges will be analyzed, with particular reference to how to assess the impact of the Sustainable Business Model. In this context, specific tools for assessing corporate performance will be analyzed and discussed, with particular reference to international and European standards aimed at supporting and demonstrating the level of sustainability of individual companies, as well as of products / services. During this part of the course, Tools, Methods and Technologies able of supporting sustainable and circular business model innovation will also be presented and analyzed, both for the adaptation of existing business models and for the development of new models. Also in this phase a company testimony will be presented which is particularly coherent with the themes being studied and analyzed and students will again be involved in group work. They will be asked to make a short presentation aimed at describing and comparing, according to a predefined outline, some company strategies, to then identify and develop appropriate areas for improvement. For each presentation a second group will be identified that will play the role of discussant.


Bocken, N., Ritala, P., Albareda, L., & Verburg, R. (Eds.). (2019). Innovation for Sustainability: Business Transformations Towards a Better World. Springer
(suggested for attending students, mandatory for non-attending students)


Ambec S., Lanoie P. (2008). Does It Pay to Be Green? A Systematic Overview. Academy of Management Perspectives, November, 45-62

Bansal P. and Roth K. (2000), Why Companies Go Green: A Model of Ecological Responsiveness The Academy of Management Journal 43, 717-736

Bogers M., Chesbrough H. & Moedas C. (2018). Open Innovation: Research, Practices, and Policies. California Management Review 60, 5-16

Cennamo, C., Dagnino, G. B., Di Minin A., & Lanzolla G.. (2020). Managing Digital Transformation: Scope of Transformation and Modalities of Value Co-Generation and Delivery. California Management Review, 62(4), 5-16

Bocken N.M.P., de Pauw I., Bakker C. and van der Grinten, B., (2016), “Product design and business model strategies for a circular economy”, Journal of Industrial and Production Engineering, 33: 308-322

Chesbrough, H., Business Model Innovation: Opportunities and Barriers, Long Range Planning, Volume 43, Issues 2–3, 2010, Pages 354-363

Evans, S., Vladimirova, D., Holgado, M., Van Fossen, K., Yang, M., Silva, E. A., and Barlow, C. Y. (2017), Business Model Innovation for Sustainability: Towards a Unified Perspective for Creation of Sustainable Business Models. Bus. Strat. Env., 26: 597– 608
Hart S.L. and Milstein M.B. (2003), Creating sustainable value. Academy of Management Executive, 17, 56–67

Jabbour, Ana & Luiz, João Victor & Luiz, Octaviano & Chiappetta-Jabbour, Charbel & Ndubisi, Nelson & Oliveira, Jorge & Hourneaux Junior, Flavio. (2019). Circular Economy Business Models and Operations Management. Journal of Cleaner Production. 235

Johnson M., Christensen C., Kagermann H. (2008) “Reinventing your business model” in Harvard Business Review, December 2008 (https://hbr.org/2008/12/reinventing-your-business-model)

Lacy, P., & Rutqvist, J. (2015), Waste to wealth: The circular economy advantage, Heidelberg: Springer

Lewandowski M., (2016), “Designing the business models for circular economy towards the conceptual framework”, Sustainability, 8: 1-28

Pane Haden S.S., Oyler J. D. and Humphreys J. H. (2009) Historical, practical, and theoretical perspectives on green management. An exploratory analysis. Management Decision, 47, 1041 – 1055

Pieroni M.P.P, McAloone T.C. and Pigosso D.C.A., (2019), “Business model innovation for circular economy and sustainability: A review of approaches”, Journal of Cleanear Production, 215: 198-216

Porter M.E., van der Linde C., (1995). Toward a new conception of the environment competitiveness relationship. Journal of Economic Perspectives 9, 97-118

Urbinati A., Chiaron D. and Chiesa V. (2017), “Towards a new taxonomy of circular economy business models”, Journal of Cleaner Production, 168: 487-498

Van der Byl C. A. and Slawinski N. (2015) Embracing Tensions in Corporate Sustainability: A Review of Research From Win-Wins and Trade-Offs to Paradoxes and Beyond. Organization & Environment, 28(1) 54– 79

Zott C, Amit R, Massa L. The Business Model: Recent Developments and Future Research. Journal of Management. 2011;37(4):1019-1042

Teaching methods

The course involves the use of different teaching methods: lectures, exercises, group work, preparation of research, analysis of business cases. All these methodologies contribute to the achievement of the training objectives, which are related to both knowledge and know-how, aiming, as well, at strengthening critical thinking, creative thinking, the ability to communicate and collaborate.

Exam Rules

The exam is specific for attending and non-attending students and assesses the overall preparation of the student, the ability to integrate the knowledge of the different parts of the program, the consequentiality of reasoning, the ability analytical and autonomy of judgment. In addition, language properties and clarity of presentation are evaluated, in compliance with the Dublin descriptors:1. knowledge and understanding; 2. Ability to apply knowledge and understanding; 3. Making judgements; 4. Learning skills; 5: Communication skills.
For attending students, the exam is based on a written test. The written test lasts 1 hour and consists of 2 open questions drawn from the attending students’ program. The written test is accompanied by an individual assignment (60% of the evaluation). Group assignments carried out during the course, complete the overall evaluation (for the remaining 40%).
For non-attending students, the exam is entirely based on a written test. The written test lasts 2 hours and consists of 4 open questions drawn from the different parts of the non-attending students’ program.