Life Cycle-Based Generic Business Strategies for Sustainable Business Models

  •  Yoon-Young Chun    
  •  Kun-Mo Lee    


The need to transition to a more sustainable economy is one of the most significant challenges society has ever faced. Despite the evidence that adopting a more sustainable business model is linked to more stable profits, many conventional manufacturers do not know where to begin. This study aims to identify generic business strategies that conventional manufacturers can use to improve their business models and thus be more sustainable and/or develop new sustainable business models. In order to identify such strategies, data were gathered from 105 Korean business cases involving a wide range of products and services via online searches and interviews. Business cases were chosen based on whether they relied on a new business paradigm and directly or indirectly generated economic, social, and environmental benefits. Through analyses of the data, generic business strategies were extracted for each life cycle stage. The results showed that the success of a sustainable business model depends on a mixture of pertinent generic business strategies from the life cycle perspective. A conventional business model that focused on a particular life cycle stage and strategy was not very successful. However, a new business model using generic business strategies (such as eco-design as well as product-service system (PSS)-oriented strategies geared at the relevant life cycle stage) produced significant environmental, economic, and social performance improvements. Not only an appropriate mixture of generic business strategies but also systematic support such as infrastructural support is required if manufacturers are to achieve the potential sustainability of a new company-specific business model.

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