Digitalization, business models, and SMEs: How do business model innovation practices improve performance of digitalizing SMEs? Digitalization, business models, and SMEs

Willem Adriaan Bouwman, Shahrokh Nikou, De Reuver Mark

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    Digital transformation is requiring companies to rethink and innovate their business models (BMs). However, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have scarce time and resources for experimenting with their BMs and implementing new strategies. This paper examines whether SMEs that undergo digital transformation perform better if they allocate more resources for BM experimentation and engage more in strategy implementation. An empirical study was conducted on 321 European SMEs that actively use social media, big data, and information technology to innovate their BMs. Furthermore, structural equation modelling showed positive overall firm performance effects of more resource allocation to BM experimentation and more engagement in practices of strategy implementation. These effects were mediated by BM experimentation practices and company innovativeness. Moreover, fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) revealed the presence of equifinality by identifying different configurations in which these antecedent conditions affect overall firm overall performance. The results of two methodological approaches showed that SMEs may take different routes to improve their performance when digital transformation is changing their BM. This paper is one of the first to analyse how SMEs can handle the impact of digitalization by spending more time and effort on innovating their BMs. Practical and policy implications are discussed.

    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)
    JournalTelecommunications Policy
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Business model innovation
    • Social media
    • business model
    • SMEs
    • Business Model Experimentation

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