Article | Harvard Business Review | January – February 2012

When One Business Model Isn't Enough

by Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Jorge Tarzijan

Abstract

Trying to operate two business models at once often causes strategic failure. Yet LAN Airlines, a Chilean carrier, runs three models successfully. Casadesus-Masanell, of Harvard Business School, and Tarziján, of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, explore how LAN has integrated a full-service international passenger model with a premium air-cargo business model while separately operating a no-frills passenger model for domestic flights. LAN's multi-model success comes from recognizing the complementarity of its two high-end services and the distinct, or substitute, nature of its no-frills offering. LAN came to that insight by analyzing the major assets that the models share and the compatibility of the models' operational resources and capabilities. It recognized that the more the models have in common, the more likely they are to generate greater value together than apart; the less they share, the more likely they are to be best executed separately. Nevertheless, managing multiple models is a tall order. LAN has had to face greater complexity, broaden its organizational skills, increase the flexibility of its workforce, and make other investments. But by mastering three models, the company has built formidable advantages that are difficult for competitors to overcome. Its example has shown how, properly applied, the implementation of multiple business models is not a risk but rather a new tool for strategists.

Keywords: Integration; Failure; Business Model; Service Operations; Asset Management; Value; Complexity; Competency and Skills; Business Strategy; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Risk and Uncertainty; Customer Relationship Management; Air Transportation Industry;

Citation:

Casadesus-Masanell, Ramon, and Jorge Tarzijan. "When One Business Model Isn't Enough." Harvard Business Review 90, nos. 1-2 (January–February 2012).