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Business Model Design and Learning by Barbara Spencer

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J.C. Penney’s Business Model Transformation

In 2011, Ron Johnson, from Apple, was hired to turn the company around. Johnson, known both for designing Apple’s beautiful retail stores, and for helping to establish Target’s aura of cheap chic, announced that he would treat the chain “like a start-up company”17 by reformulating its business model and reinventing the department store. To assist him in revamping the stores, he installed Michael Francis, another former Target executive, as J.C. Penney’s brand president.

The first question to ask about the change at J.C. Penney’s is whether this is truly a business model change versus a strategic repositioning. If we consider only the most basic elements of its business model, or the foundation, we ...

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