Start-Ups as adaptable stable systems based on synchronous business models

Stephen Fox (Corresponding Author), Päivi Vahala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


Business models have been a popular topic in research and practice for more than twenty years. During this time, frameworks for formulating business models have been developed, such as the business model canvas. Moreover, different business model frameworks have been proposed for different sectors. Yet, these frameworks have the fundamental shortcoming of not addressing directly and persistently the primary objective of start-ups: to survive in changing environments. The aim of the action research reported in this paper is to overcome that fundamental shortcoming. This is an important topic because the majority of start-ups do not survive. In this paper, first principles for survival in changing environments are related to business models. In particular, action research to reframe start-ups as adaptable stable systems based on synchronous business models is reported. The paper provides three principal contributions. The contribution to business model theory building is to relate survival first principles revealed through natural science research to business models. Reference to first principles highlight that survival depends on maintaining both external adaptability and internal stability through synchronization with changing environments. The second contribution is to business model practice through describing a simple business modeling method that is based on the scientific first principles. The third contribution is to provide an example that bridges the rigor–relevance gap between scientific research and business practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number81
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • adaptability
  • business model
  • ecological fitness
  • entropy
  • environment
  • growth
  • stability
  • start‐ups
  • survival
  • synchronous


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