Édition #5

Transition in the mountain resorts: an approach based on the portfolios of business models

Matthieu BATTISTELLI Senior Lecturer in Management Sciences, IAE Savoie Mont Blanc/IREGE.
Boris BOURGEL Co-managing partner of Eficéo and part-time lecturer at IAE Savoie Mont Blanc/IREGE.
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The transition of the mountain resorts is increasingly a hotly debated issue. While all the mountain players agree on the need for resorts to make the transition to reduce their dependence on ski-related activities (to a varying degree and with a varying degree of difficulty according to resort) and to protect themselves from the economic, social and environmental effects of climate change, the question of “how” is becoming more acute. How should ski-related activities evolve? What new economic activities should be tried to maintain a quality of life and sustainable employment in these regions? What are the economic, social and environmental consequences? These questions are at the heart of a survey currently being carried out in Le Grand Bornand by four researchers in management sciences, geography and sociology from the Université Savoie Mont Blanc, as part of the Sustainable Tourism chair.


The idea at the core of the approach is to consider a mountain resort not as a single business model¹, but as a more or less organised and coherent set of separate business models. This is what we call the portfolio approach to business models. A detailed understanding of this portfolio is relevant on several levels:

»It offers greater granularity, i.e. a more detailed vision of a resort’s strategic activities.
»This approach includes the specificities of each resort: its history, the place and potential of ski-related activities, the relative weight of certain activities compared to others, the logic of complementarity and conflict between activities in a region, etc.

The portfolio approach of business models makes it possible to consider the impact of the structure of a region’s activities on public finances.

In other words, assimilating a mountain resort as a portfolio of coherent business models allows us to think of an alternative to the false strategic dilemma of “only skiing” versus “4-season tourism”.


The portfolio approach to business models as we are constructing it is innovative. Applied to mountain resorts, it has several virtues: it objectifies the values (economic, social, environmental) proposed for a given region (beyond what is perceived), offers a better understanding of the tensions and complementarities between a region’s activities, helps with decision-making in a – sometimes tense – context of transition and models the impact of transition on public finances.

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1 As a reminder, a business model, or economic model, is generally defined as a model for designing and formalising corporate strategy which describes the way in which a company organises itself to create, offer and capture value.


A graduate of the École Normale Supérieure with a degree in economics and management, Matthieu is a lecturer in management science at the IAE Savoie Mont Blanc (USMB) and a member of the IREGE laboratory. His research focuses on how organisations manage major societal challenges. He is also interested in the effects of new organisational forms (liberated companies, holacracy, sociocracy) on business development.
As co-managing partner of Eficéo and part-time lecturer and researcher at the IAE Savoie Mont Blanc (USMB), Boris has a dual perspective on the questions of transition facing mountain resorts; as a researcher, specialising in sustainable business models, and as a consultant for resort players, by carrying out studies/surveys and implementing digital solutions for harnessing data.