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Uncertainty profiles in engineering-service development: exploring supplier co-creation

Tabea Ramirez Hernandez (Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark)
Melanie E. Kreye (Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 7 July 2020

Issue publication date: 27 April 2021




Engineering service (ES) development, particularly with supplier co-creation, is nontrivial, and the literature has acknowledged the high relevance of uncertainty in this context. This study aims to investigate the relationship between different supplier co-creation modes (operationally independent [OI] and operationally dependent [OD]) and uncertainty criticality arising during ES development.


This study develops a conceptual framework of five uncertainty types by synthesizing the relevant literature from service management and new product development. This framework guided the empirical work of two in-depth case studies, describing uncertainty criticality in OI and OD supplier co-creation.


The findings show that environmental and organizational uncertainty were generally of high criticality for ES development independently of the supplier co-creation mode. Moreover, uncertainty criticality varied between the two cases, with higher criticality of technical and relational uncertainty as well as less resource uncertainty experienced by the focal organization in the OD case. This suggests that supplier co-creation constitutes an uncertainty reallocation.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is needed to test the generalizability of the qualitative results through quantitative studies.


This research contributes to the service management literature by showing the varying uncertainty profiles manufacturing organizations face when engaging in different supplier co-creation modes. Furthermore, this research provides novel insights on ES development to the broader discussion on ES management.



Ramirez Hernandez, T. and Kreye, M.E. (2021), "Uncertainty profiles in engineering-service development: exploring supplier co-creation", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 407-437.



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