Circular Moonshot: Understanding Shifts in Organizational Field Logics and Business Model Innovation

Lori Divito*, Erin Leitheiser, Charlotte Piller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We aim to understand how actors respond to field logic plurality and maintain legitimacy through business model innovation. Drawing on a longitudinal field study in the fashion industry, we traced how de novo and incumbent firms incorporate circular logics in business models (for sustainability) and uncover how the intersection between issue and exchange fields creates institutional complexity and experimental spaces for business model innovation. Our findings showed a shift in the discourse on circular logic that diverted attention and resources from materials innovation (e.g., recycling) to business model innovation (e.g., circular business models). By juxtaposing institutional complexity and external pressure to maintain legitimacy, we derived four strategic business model innovation responses—preserve, detach, integrate and extend—that illuminate how actors leverage shifting logics and innovate extant business models (for sustainability). We make novel contributions to the literature on organizational fields, business models for sustainability, and business model innovation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization & Environment
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: August 22, 2022.


  • Business models for sustainability
  • Organizational field logics
  • Issue fields
  • Legitimacy
  • Circular fashion

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