Business as Unusual: Innovative Practices and New Business models

The “Business as Unusual” Chair established in 2013, has as ambition to explore and provide an improved understanding of new business models and practices, as well as new organizational forms emerging in today’s fast-changing business environment. 
The focus of the Chair’s activities rotates around several key issues: collaborative approaches to business and innovation; digital transformation; sustainable development; market shaping. These issues can operate independently or else simultaneously.  Since its creation, and in the light of the above observations, the Chair has identified four key underlying and interrelated areas for investigation and development.

4 key inter-connected research streams:

Stream 1: Knowledge Communities: a new form of organization leveraging Innovation and Business Development

The KCO Club is a community mixing firms’ professionals and academic researchers.

The goal of the club is to explore how firms can leverage internal and external communities to generate innovation and develop their business.

While innovation becomes a strategic stake for companies, theBloomberg Innovation Index of the most innovative countries highlight the difficulties of French firms to innovate. In terms of innovation, an increasing number of firms discover the key role played by communities.  According to the FNEGE, 88% of managers consider that communities represent a key lever to their development.  

Communities: an informal form of organizing

Communities are informal groups of individuals having the desire to share and improve their practices or to develop new ones …

Communities generate a growing interest for companies for their ability to:

  • Break vertical silos and generate transversal coordination
  • Favor bottom-up processes to leverage innovative ideas & improve user experiences
  • Instill a new social dynamic (opposed to a technical push-approach)
  • Instill change based on a more human, social approach (sense-making)

 Why joining the KCO Club?

  • Obtain advice of club members (professionals and academics) on how to develop community both within and outside your firm
  • Benchmark experiences and share best practices and questions with other community members
  • Benefit from latest research and exchange with experts through the KCO research events
  • Develop the visibility and recognition of community experiences through publications in renowned academic journals and the professional press (Harvard Business review, The Conversation)

Examples of activities developed by the KCO

  • A practical handbook of tools and methods on the way to facilitate, lead and connect with internal and external communities.
  • Collection of firms’ best practices on community management and on the ways firms exploit the innovations developed by its communities (based on case studies).
  • 2 annual meetings/year: debates around a predefined theme; work on a managerial issue related to community management suggested by one KCO member firm.


  • Crespin-Mazet F., Goglio-Primard K., & Guittard C. (2019), « Communautés de connaissance et accélération de l’innovation et de la créativité », Innovations,  58 (1), pp.5-17.
  • Crespin-Mazet F., Havenvid M. & Linne A. (2019), “Organising communities for construction innovation — examples from the French and Swedish construction sectors”, in The Connectivity of Innovation in the Construction Industry, Havenvid M., Linne A., Bygballe L. & Harty C. (Eds), Routledge, 2019, Chapter 10, 306p
  • Goglio-Primard, K., Soulier E. (2018), Connaissances et technologie dans les communautés d’innovation, Revue Systèmes d’Information et Management, 23(1), 3-9.  
  • Crespin-Mazet, F., Goglio-Primard, K., Grenier, C. (2017) Social Collectives: A Partial Form of Organizing That Sustains Social Innovation, Management international, 21(3), 33-44.
  • Goglio-Primard, K., Guittard C., Burger-Helmchen T. (2017) Knowledge Sharing in Geographically Dispersed Communities, Management international, 21(3), 10-15
  • Ben Letaifa, S., Goglio-Primard, K. (2016) How does institutional context shape entrepreneurship conceptualizations? Journal of Business Research, (69), 5128-5134.

Our partners : EngieSpie BatignollesLaerdalCrouzetSartoriusSchneiderExpleo

Stream 2 : Sustainable Practices for a Circular economy

Work on this theme places emphasis on the increasing scarcity of resources in industrial systems and the adoption of alternative practices by different market actors to facilitate improved resource use. Output for work performed within this stream is pedagogical, and research oriented.

The pedagogical aim is to expose future managers and business leaders to changing paradigms so that they are aware of and understand them (rather than become technical experts) whilst at the same time innovating in teaching formats and content.

On the managerial side can be mentioned the development of a « Circular economy indicator » aimed at measuring performance in the area of CE. A major project was run in collaboration with Orange, investigating the implementation of a customer handset buyback scheme from a circular economy perspective. Presentation of findings took place in workshops and conferences, along with subsequent publications in several high-ranking journals.

Partners over the years have included Corporate entities (Orange, SNCF, La Poste, Cap Energies), alongside several NGO’s (Ellen McArthur Fondation, Institut de l’Economie Circulaire, OREE…).

This stream demonstrates overlap with both the Inter-firm Cooperation and Digital Transformation themes mentioned elsewhere.

Some key publications:

  • Canning, L. and Franklin-Johnson, E. 2018: The big squeeze. Orange and the challenge of mobile phone take back, CCMP Kedge D 001
  • D’Antone, S., Canning, L., Franklin-Johnson, E. and Spencer, R. “Concerned Innovation: the ebb and flow between market and society”, in Industrial Marketing Management, March 2017.
  • D'Antone, S. & Spencer, R. (2014), « Organising for sustainable palm oil consumption: a market-based approach” in Consumption, Markets & Culture, Vol. 18, No. 1, 55-71.
  • +teaching case study

Stream 3 : Inter-firm cooperation in business market relationships

This stream takes a closer look at collaborative approaches at play in business markets as opposed to the more usual competitive approaches. The aim is to investigate the nature, management and impact of inter-firm and inter-actor relations in business markets. Anchored in the works produced by the IMP (Industrial Marketing and Purchasing) Group of researchers since the 1990’s. Underlying theoretical models and paradigms include the Interaction and Network approaches to business.

The stream has several ongoing areas under investigation. One sub-stream relates to the area of key customer and supplier account management, exploring issues such as the role of the key account manager (KAM), appropriate organisational solutions for KAM, and key account selection and portfolio management.

A secondsub-stream takes as focus the solution selling and project marketing theme, where single relationships between suppliers and buyers make way for more complex network-based approaches and management, including, for example, explicit analysis and management of triads of actors. At the same time this stream takes inspiration from the « market-shaping » approaches developed over the last few years, where the market is not considered a « given », pre-determined factor, but rather an entity to be shaped over time by an actor, via practices of various kinds.

A third ongoing sub-stream relates to the theme « Reputation » and market effects. Indeed, reputation can be seen as a prelude or conditioning factor for performance in the market-place. Clear links can be found between this stream and works performed in the Business Development stream and Digital Transformation of markets stream.

Some key publications :

  • Maltese, L., Pons, F., Prévot, F. (2017) Managing e-reputation and key stakeholders in the context of sport expressive organizations, International Studies of Management and Organization, 47 (1), p. 88-105
  • Nagueira, F., Cova, B., Spencer, R. and Proencao, J, (2016) “A dynamics-based approach to solutions typology: A case from the aerospace industry” J. inIndustrial Marketing Management 58,· June
  • Ferreira,F., Proença, J., Spencer R., and Cova, B. (2014) “The transition from products to solutions: External business model fit and dynamics” in Industrial Marketing Management, Vol. 42, Issue 7, October .
  • Geiger, S., Kjellberg, H., Spencer, R. (DATE) “Shaping exchanges, building markets” in Consumption Markets & Culture, Vol. 15, Issue 2, 133-147.
  •  Cova, B., Prévot, F., Spencer R. (2010) Navigating between dyads and networks, Industrial Marketing Management, 39 (6), p. 879-886
  • Spencer, R. and Cova, B. “Market Solutions: Breaking Free from Dyad-Centric Logic and Broadening the Scope of SDL” (2012)  Journal of Marketing Management Vol. 28, 13-14, December 2012, pp. 1571-1587
  • Prévot, F., Spencer R. (2006) Supplier competence alignment: Cases from the buyer perspective in the Brazilian market, Industrial Marketing Management, 35 (8), p. 944-960
  • Spencer, R. “Key Accounts: Effectively managing Strategic Complexity” in Journal of Business and Industrial marketing, Vol. 14, no. 4, 1999

Some key events :

  • The Industrial Marketing and Purchasing Conference and Doctoral Colloquium, hosted by KEDGE Bordeaux Campus, September 2014.
  • The Industrial Marketing and Purchasing Conference and Doctoral Colloquium, hosted by KEDGE Marseille Campus, September 2018

Stream 4 : Digital transformation : intra- and inter-firm practices and consequences

This more recent research stream targets an improved understanding of managerial issues in the light of digitalisation in the marketplace and in society.  Indeed, digitalisation can have profound and widespread effects for market phenomena and associated business strategy and practices. These can be related to such issues as – to name but a few - consumer buyer behaviour, buyer-seller relationships, purchasing practices... Initial work in this research stream places the focus on a literature review and a bibliometrics survey to provide a « lay-of-the-land ».

Future projects in this area will tie in with the other research streams covered by the Chair, leading to exploration of such issues such as the impact and consequences of the digital era on buyer-seller relationships, digital technology and innovation in business relationships and networks, digitilisation of KAM, digital capabilities of BtoB firms, social media use in a BtoB context, and the impact of digital technologies on buyer-supplier relationships (e.g. the Alibaba platform, …).

Some key publications :

  • Leek, S.H. Canning, L.E. Houghton, D.J. (2016), ‘Revisiting the task-media-fit model in the era of Web 2.0. Twitter use and interaction in the healthcare sector’. Industrial Marketing Management, 54: 25-32
  • Leek, S. Houghton, D. Canning L. Twitter and behavioral engagement in the healthcare sector: An examination of product and service companies. Industrial Marketing Management (in press)


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