Thesis defense of Dorleta Ibarra


Thesis defense of Dorleta Ibarra


Thesis defense of Dorleta Ibarra

Title of the thesis: "Business model innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises: an exploration of key drivers and performance implications". Obtained the SOBRESALIENTE CUM LAUDE qualification.



  • Title of the thesis: "Business model innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises: an exploration of key drivers and performance implications"
  • Court:
    • President: Jaume Valls Pasola (Universidad de Barcelona)
    • Vocal: José Albors Garrigós (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia)
    • Vocal: Andreas Schroeder (Aston Business School)
    • Vocal: Joan Manuel Fernández Mendoza (Mondragon Unibertsitatea)
    • Secretary: Javier Retegi Albisua (Mondragon Unibertsitatea)


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of a nation's wealth creation, employment generation and economic development. Hence, new ways to sustain and reinforce their competitiveness in todays fast-changing, complex and unpredictable environment become key for their survival and the development of the Region. In this context, business model innovation is emerging as a new source of competitive advantage that can complement or even substitute traditional forms of innovation. Recently, research have started to empirically explore how SMEs can proactively address business model innovation to adapt their business model to the environmental challenges. However, the literature is widely disperse, and further research is needed to gain the big picture on the key drivers and performance implications of business model innovation in SMEs. The main goal of this thesis is therefore to explore business model innovation in SMEs from a holistic view. Based on a sample of 78 SMEs and a mixed method approach that combines three analysis methods [i.e. partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM, fuzzy-sets qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA), and t-test analysis techniques] it examines the effect of certain antecedents (innovation culture, business model innovation capabilities, managerial orientation and business model innovation tools) on business model innovation, and the performance implications of business model innovation. It also examines how different configurations of abovementioned antecedents lead to business model innovation in SMEs. Finally, business model innovation is compared with other forms of innovation (product, process, marketing, organisation) to shed some light on how SMEs approach innovation. The findings suggest that strategizing, sensing and experimenting capabilities are key drivers of business model innovation in SMES, while these capabilities are promoted by the managerial orientation (towards long-term, risk-taking and investment) and the innovation culture of the firm. The results also indicate that the use of tools facilitate business model innovation. Contrary to the expectations, this study has been unable to demonstrate that collaboration capabilities foster business model innovation. Additionally, business model innovation seem to be related with a superior market performance, and business model advantage partially explains this relationship. The results of the fsQCA further suggest that SMEs follow different equally effective paths to business model innovation that reflect distinct causation-effectuation behaviours. Lastly, it is showed that certain innovations (service, marketing, process and organisation) and resource adquisition complement business model innovation, expanding the approach of SMEs innovation practices. This investigation contributes therefore to further understand business model innovation in SMEs, while provides practical implications for SMEs and policy makers.