Developing sustainable business experimentation capability – A case study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This research paper shows how a firm pursues innovation activities for economic, social and environmental value creation in the context of time sensitivity. We make a conceptual link between lean startup thinking, triple bottom line value creation, and organizational capabilities. The case study firm uses a novel experimentation approach to pursue the goal of diverting all of its sold clothing from landfill through a two-year project. This requires substantial changes to the current business practice because in 2012, the clothing retailer recovered 1% of all garments sold. The fibre input value for all garments sold in 2012 exceeded $7m. We found that despite a stated need for fast learning through project experiments, the experiments were not executed quickly. (1) The desire to plan project activities and the lack of lean startup approach expertise across the whole project team hampered fast action. This led to the extension of the project timeline. However, project team confidence about learning by doing increased through privately executed experiments. (2) Some project experiments were not fit to meet the triple bottom value creation project goal and were dropped from the project. Overall, the corporate mindset of economic value creation still dominated.


External organisations
  • University of Cambridge
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Imperial College London
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economics and Business


  • Business model innovation, Circular economy, Experimentation, Sustainable business model, Triple bottom line value creation, Urgency
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2663-2676
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 20
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes