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A manufacturer becoming service provider – challenges and a paradox

Saara Brax (Business Innovation Technology Research Centre, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki, Finland)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 1 April 2005



To provide a perspective on the nature of service infusion in manufacturing companies based on a case analysis in the context of a maintenance management solution for industrial production equipment.


The paper first discusses how manufacturers becoming service providers is treated in the literature. Next, a qualitative single‐case study is reported, in which a troublesome business concept was surveyed through 35 thematic focus group interviews. The analysis revealed a set of challenges that were compared to arrive at a conclusion, the paradox.


The findings suggest that many challenges stemmed from the manufacturing‐oriented way of doing business. This further indicates that the common implicit view, that manufacturers can shift to service provision steadily, by adding service offerings to their total offering one by one, may actually be hazardous.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations are based on the methodology. First, the case study focuses on only one manufacturing company, and therefore the aim of the paper is not to generalize the findings. On the other hand, the data collected for the case are rich and in‐depth in nature, and the brief reporting can only cover the tip of the iceberg. Yet, even one divergent case yields for questioning the existing beliefs, which is the aim of this study.


The paper provides an original perspective to this topical, but under‐studied, phenomenon of manufacturers increasingly providing service offerings, and brings into daylight the implicit tone of the existing research.



Brax, S. (2005), "A manufacturer becoming service provider – challenges and a paradox", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 142-155.



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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited