Creating multi-vendor solutions: the resources and capabilities required

Chris Owen Raddats (Management School, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Jamie Burton (Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Publication date: 28 January 2014



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the resources and capabilities required by manufacturers to develop and deliver multi-vendor solutions.


A multi-case design comprising six UK-based manufacturers: two from each of the aerospace/defence, information technology and telecommunications sectors.


Manufacturers can be characterized by their propensity to include products from other vendors in their solutions; single vendor solution providers (SVSPs) focus on solutions comprising their own products, while multi-vendor solution providers (MVSPs) fully embrace products from other manufacturers. Three capabilities were identified which distinguish MVSPs from SVSPs given the complexity of multi-vendor solutions (expertise specifying the solution, engineers trained in implementing/supporting the solution, partnerships with component suppliers of the solution). These capabilities are underpinned by both technical capability and impartiality in solution specification.

Research limitations/implications

MVSPs need to be impartial when specifying customer solutions. They should be guided by the best interests of the customer rather than the interests of the product-based SBUs. Achieving impartiality can conflict with some manufacturers' product heritage. The research has focused on three sectors; further research is needed to test whether the findings are applicable beyond these sectors.

Practical implications

Solutions are a valuable approach in creating market differentiation, although not all manufacturers will possess the resources/capabilities to be successful.


A continuum of solution providers is proposed; SVSPs at one extreme and MVSPs at the other. The operant resource-based capability “impartiality” was identified as being particularly important to MVSPs in creating value for customers.



Owen Raddats, C. and Burton, J. (2014), "Creating multi-vendor solutions: the resources and capabilities required", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 132-142.

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