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Adding service means adding knowledge: an inductive single-case study

Luna Leoni (Department of Business Government Philosophy Studies, University of Rome, Rome, Italy)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 1 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explore how knowledge management systems can support the adoption of the servitization strategy in a manufacturing firm.


In order to reach the paper aim, an inductive single-case study has been adopted. The analysis focuses on the IBM Corporation.


In spite of the paucity of studies that simultaneously address both servitization and knowledge management topics, the case study findings show five connections points between the two streams of research, proving not only that they are closely connected to each other, but also how the adoption of a good knowledge management system can facilitate the implementation of a servitization strategy.

Research limitations/implications

As far as the adoption of a single-case study is concerned, this could create biases that can affect the final product in terms of reliability, validity, and generalizability. However, as stated by Erickson (1986), the general lies in the particular and, as argued by Flyvbjerg (2006), the strength of a single example is underestimated in its contribution to scientific progress. Thus, even though this paper is based on a single-case study, it is reasonable to believe that it could be considered as a representative case of companies of the time and its findings sufficiently generalizable.

Practical implications

Case study findings could guide managers towards understanding if their knowledge management tools and practices are appropriate, or if they need to be modified in order to successfully implement the servitization strategy adopted.


This study represents the first attempt to fill the paucity of studies contemporaneously addressing both servitization and knowledge management topics, and could be used as a pilot case for future research works.



The author gratefully acknowledges all the IBM professionals for their time and devotion to this study. In particular, the author is indebted to Fabio Menis, who has allowed, through his support and suggestions, the success of this investigation.


Leoni, L. (2015), "Adding service means adding knowledge: an inductive single-case study", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 610-627.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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