Towards regenerative business models: A necessary shift?

Jan Konietzko, Ankita Das, Nancy Bocken

Regeneration has become a debated topic in organizational studies, yet its characteristics and distinctions from sustainability and circular business models remain unclear. This study aims to provide an initial framework for regenerative business models and differentiate them from sustainable or circular models. Employing literature reviews, six focus groups with international and indigenous participants, and comparisons with seminal articles on sustainable and circular models, this study finds that organizations with regenerative business models focus on planetary health and societal wellbeing. They create and deliver value at multiple stakeholder levels—including nature, societies, customers, suppliers and partners, shareholders and investors, and employees—through activities promoting regenerative leadership, co-creative partnerships with nature, and justice and fairness. Capturing value through multi-capital accounting, they aim for a net positive impact across all stakeholder levels. Regenerative business models share some design approaches with sustainable and circular models but differ in their main goals and systemic perspectives. Achieving regenerative business models requires strong and contested policy frameworks, including animal and nature rights and true pricing. Further research is needed to explore how organizations can incorporate intrinsic notions of value beyond capital and avoid new forms of greenwashing when adopting regeneration and net positive impact narratives.


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