Open for business: Project-specific value capture strategies of architectural firms


While attempting to reclaim their role or to take on new roles in collaborations with other actors, architectural firms are challenged to develop business models that are financially viable and professionally satisfactory. Adding to the largely firm-wide and profit-oriented literature on business models and value capture, this PhD research contributes insights into how architectural firms capture multiple dimensions of value in their project-based work. Drawing on 40 case-based interviews with architects and clients from 24 recently completed construction projects, as well as observational data from 17 project-oriented strategy meetings, the value capture strategies of architectural firms were examined both in retrospect and as they unfolded in practice.

Analyses showed that architects negotiate different professional roles, as they have different perceptions of what their professional expertise means when collaborating with other actors; that firms tend to prioritize the capture of professional values over money and sometimes even client use value to attain their goals; and that firms may consciously risk or accept the slippage of financial value in a project to attain professional goals, but typically prevent risking the potential slippage of professional value. Although architectural firms consider innovations in their business models, these innovations are largely constrained by professional norms and values, which complicates the capture of both professional and financial value with altered or new roles.

The empirical findings generate new perspectives on processes of organizational value capture and business model design by highlighting the importance of taking into account professional value, professional identity and the potential slippage of different value dimensions. Furthermore, by synthesizing the insights in a toolkit for value capture, this PhD research facilitates creative professional service firms to engage in projects and manage their value capture activities in these projects with greater awareness. The developed board game helps creative professionals, both practising and in training, to structurally visualize, discuss and refine the relationships between firm goals, expertise and risks in accordance with the aspired or given professional role identity in a project in order to arrive at a viable business model for a project that is in line with the professional goals.

Bos-de Vos, M. (2018). Open for business. A+BE | Architecture And The Built Environment, (13), 1-234. doi:10.7480/abe.2018.13