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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2016
Thesis number: 14722
Business Model Sensemaking in Early Stage Knowledge-Intensive Firms
Author: Khrupa, Igor
Title: Business Model Sensemaking in Early Stage Knowledge-Intensive Firms
Year: 2016  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; johtaminen; yrittäjät; liikeidea; liiketalous; mallit
Pages: 61
Full text:
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Key terms: Sensemaking, business model, managerial cognition, schema, entrepreneur
The business model has a notable presence in both academic and popular business literature and consensus is growing with regards to many of its underlying topics. However, a first-hand managerial perspective has the potential to add valuable insights to the ongoing discussion. In particular, there exists a theoretical gap in how managers in general and founders of early-stage knowledge-intensive firms in particular make sense of their ventures' business models. The aim of this thesis is to help close that gap.

The presented theoretical framework is derived from an extensive analysis of two prominent literature streams: business models (with a particular focus on the nature on its components & definitions, relationship to other business aspects and business model development of early stage ventures) and sensemaking (including the role of mental models and entrepreneurial sensemaking.

A qualitative research methodology was utilized to arrive at an answer to the posed research problem. Data was collected from six semi-structured interviews with founders of global early-stage knowledge intensive ventures in Germany. A deductive content analysis procedure was developed via a synthesis of prominent methodology literature and applied to the study's raw dataset.

The study is among the first to apply a content analysis methodology in the study of the sensemaking perspective. Its main theoretical contribution is a six-part model of managerial sensemaking in the context of early stage knowledge-intensive firms. The framework consists of the following sub-components: a customer-centricity schema, a business model schema, confirmation-seeking behaviour, own higher purpose schema, framing through known objects, and stakeholder management. The identified categories of sensemaking build on extant literature and advance the current understanding of the dynamics of sensemaking in the entrepreneurial context. A discussion of the limitations and possible new research avenues with-in sensemaking complements the main findings.
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