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Servitization of the manufacturing firm: Exploring the operations practices and technologies that deliver advanced services

Tim Baines (Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
Howard W. Lightfoot (Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 1 January 2014



This paper aims to explore practices and technologies successfully servitised manufacturers employ in the delivery of advanced services.


A case study methodology is applied across four manufacturing organisations successful in servitization. Through interviews with personnel across host manufacturers, their partners, and key customers, extensive data are collected about service delivery systems. Analyses identify convergence in their practices and technologies.


Six distinct technologies and practices are revealed: facilities and their location, micro-vertical integration and supplier relationships, information and communication technologies (ICTs), performance measurement and value demonstration, people deployment and their skills, and business processes and customer relationships. These are then combined in an integrative framework that illustrates how operations are configured to successfully deliver advanced services.

Research limitations/implications

The analyses are reductive and rationalising. Future studies could identify other technologies and practices. Case study as a method is inherently limited in the extent to which findings can be generalised.

Practical implications

Awareness and interest in servitization is growing, yet adoption of a servitization strategy requires particular organisational capabilities on the part of the manufacturer. This study identifies technologies and practices that underpin these capabilities.


This paper contributes to the understanding of the servitization process and, in particular, the implications to broader operations of the firm.



The authors would like to acknowledge the support of EPSRC for initially funding this work, and the Royal Academy of Engineering for their support of the international case studies. The authors are especially grateful to Professors John Kay and David Stephenson for their unwavering support of this programme, along with those colleagues at Cranfield who were prepared to work across the boundaries of engineering and management. The authors would also like to thank anonymous reviewers for their insightful, considered and constructive comments.


Baines, T. and W. Lightfoot, H. (2014), "Servitization of the manufacturing firm: Exploring the operations practices and technologies that deliver advanced services", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 2-35.



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