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Solution providers’ strategic capabilities

Tuomas Huikkola (Department of Management, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)
Marko Kohtamäki (Department of Management, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




Drawing on the resource-based view of the firm, this study aims to analyze solution providers’ strategic capabilities that facilitate above-average returns.


The study applies a qualitative comparative case method. In addition to an extensive set of secondary data, the results are based on interviews with 35 executives from nine leading industrial solution providers, their strategic customers and suppliers. The analyzed solution providers were identified based on quantitative survey data.


By observing six distinctive resources and three strategic business processes, the present study identifies seven strategic capabilities that occur in different phases of solution development and deployment: fleet management capability, technology-development capability, mergers and acquisitions capability, value quantifying capability, project management capability, supplier network management capability and value co-creation capability.

Research limitations/implications

The study develops a generic model for the strategic capabilities of servitization. Application of the developed model to different contexts would further validate and enhance it.

Practical implications

Managers can use the developed model to benchmark, identify, build and manage solution providers’ strategic capabilities and associated practices.


The study develops a valuable conceptual model based on the comparative case data. Case firms were selected for the study based on a representative quantitative data set. The results were verified and triangulated with external data.



This paper is a product of the DIMECC FutIS (Future Industrial Services) and S4Fleet research projects. The financial support of the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes), FIMECC and the companies involved in the project is gratefully acknowledged.


Huikkola, T. and Kohtamäki, M. (2017), "Solution providers’ strategic capabilities", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 752-770.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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