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Barriers to service transition in an innovation ecosystem: a qualitative study

Dênio Carneiro (Universidade da Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal)
Mário Franco (Department of Management and Economics, CEFAGE-UBI Research Center, Universidade da Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal)
Margarida Rodrigues (CEFAGE-UBI Research Center, Instituto Europeu de Estudos Superiores, Fafe, Portugal)

EuroMed Journal of Business

ISSN: 1450-2194

Article publication date: 28 February 2023




This study arises from the need to understand the servitization or service transition process in non-manufacturing firms and sets out from a taxonomy proposed in the literature (Lütjen et al., 2017). This study aims to identify the barriers to service transition in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) participating in an innovation ecosystem and how these small firms can benefit from this strategy to develop in this scale.


A qualitative study was carried out based on multiple case studies, data being collected through semi-structured interviews with service business-people belonging to a science and technology park situated in an inland region of Portugal.


From content analysis, the results obtained indicated a lack of specialized personnel as the main barrier and as a strategy to overcome this situation these companies turned to business cooperation. This means that good management of this cooperation increases the quality of the services provided, as inter-organizational networks, through participation in ecosystems, can secure a wider set of resources and capacities.

Practical implications

This study shows that firms try out different service offers simultaneously and that innovation capacity increases constantly during service transition. Secondly, the study emphasizes the importance of innovation ecosystems, entrepreneurship, servitization and cooperation networks in promoting resilient and small ventures. Thus, this study can help owner-managers, SMEs and political decision-makers to make better informed decisions, which can be particularly relevant in scenarios of uncertainty and crisis.


This study draws conclusions in a little explored empirical area in the literature, challenging the widespread understanding that service transition is used only in manufacturing firms. This study provides clearer conceptual understanding of service transition from a network and relational perspective which, despite the perspective's relevance, still lacks research in the context of servitization.



The authors are grateful to the anonymous referees of the journal for the extremely useful suggestions to improve the quality of the paper. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from National Funds of the FCT – Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology within the project (No: UIDB/04007/2020).


Carneiro, D., Franco, M. and Rodrigues, M. (2023), "Barriers to service transition in an innovation ecosystem: a qualitative study", EuroMed Journal of Business, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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