Business as Unusual: Innovative Practices and New Business models


The “Business as Unusual” Chair, established in 2013, ambition is 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 revolves around several key issues: collaborative approaches to business and innovation; digital transformation; sustainable development; market shaping. These research questions can be investigated independently or 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 areas:


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

The club's objectives: explore the role of communities in business development and innovation within companies, notably:

  • The value of communities for the company
  • The coordination mechanisms allowing the company to make use of communities' innovations and outputs

As innovation appears as a key stake for companies, the 2018 ranking of the most innovative countries (Bloomberg Innovation Index) shows French businesses struggle to innovate. In terms of innovation, a growing number of companies discover the key role of communities. According to the 2018 FNEGE barometer, 88% of managers see communities as a decisive lever to their development. Communities are groups of individuals wishing to change common practices: the use of a product or a brand, a process, the business performance, the development of a new service or a product's improvement, suppliers qualification...

Communities: an informal organisation

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

Communities: a growing interest for companies

  • Breaking organisational silos and generating a better transversal coordination
  • Favouring bottom-up processes to leverage innovative ideas arising from practice & improving user experiences (internally and externally)
  • Instilling a new social dynamic
  • Accompanying change by favouring meaning creation

 Why joining the KCO Club?

  • Obtain advice of club members (professionals and academics) to develop communities both within and outside your firm
  • Benchmark experiences and share best practices and questions with other community members
  • Benefit from latest research work by participating to KCO's seminars, symposiums and workshops
  • Develop the visibility and recognition of your firm's action regarding communities through publications in renowned academic journals and the professional press (Harvard Business review, The Conversation)

Examples of activities developed by the KCO

  • Publication of a guide on communities' management good practices - how to facilitate the emergence, animation and knowledge dissemination between communities (internal and external) and firms?
  • Series of case studies: how to favour and make the best use communities' creativity?
  • Yearly meetings: a forum for exchanging information on the practices and problems of members in terms of creating and running communities and making use of their work.


  • 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

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 area 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 NGOs (Ellen McArthur Fondation, Institut de l’Economie Circulaire, OREE…).

This area overlaps with both the Inter-firm Cooperation and Digital Transformation themes, studied in the other research areas of the Chair.


  • 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

This area takes a closer look at collaborative approaches at play in businesses and 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 businesses and markets. This theme is part of the works produced by the IMP (Industrial Marketing and Purchasing) Group of researchers since the 1990s. Underlying theoretical models and paradigms include the Interaction and Network approaches to business.

The axis has several ongoing areas under investigation. One sub-axis 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 second sub-axis focuses on 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 axis 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-qxis 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.

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

This more recent research area 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 areas covered by the Chair, leading to exploration of 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).

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)