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Article
Publication date: 14 June 2011

Anu Bask, Mervi Lipponen, Mervi Rajahonka and Markku Tinnilä

Modularity has been identified as one of the most important methods for achieving mass customization. However, service models that apply varying levels of modularity and…

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4502

Abstract

Purpose

Modularity has been identified as one of the most important methods for achieving mass customization. However, service models that apply varying levels of modularity and customization also exist and are appropriate for various business situations. The objective of this paper is to introduce a framework with which different customer service offerings, service production processes, and service production networks can be analyzed in terms of both modularity and customization.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper builds theory and offers a systematic approach for analyzing service modularity and customization. To illustrate the dimensions of the framework, the authors also provide service examples of the various aspects.

Findings

In the previous literature, the concepts of modularity and customization have often been discussed in an intertwined manner. The authors find that when modularity and customization are regarded as two separate dimensions, and different perspectives– such as the service offering, the service production process, and the service production network – are combined we can create a useful framework for analysis.

Research limitations/implications

Rigorous testing is a subject for future research.

Practical implications

The framework helps companies to analyze their service offerings and to compare themselves with other companies. It seems that in practice many combinations of modularity and customization levels are used in the three perspectives.

Originality/value

This paper develops a framework for analyzing service offerings in terms of modularity and customization. The framework provides a basis for analyzing different combinations of these two aspects from the three perspectives, and herein lies its value.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 5 June 2017

Saara A. Brax, Anu Bask, Juliana Hsuan and Chris Voss

Services are highly important in a world economy which has increasingly become service driven. There is a growing need to better understand the possibilities for, and…

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2524

Abstract

Purpose

Services are highly important in a world economy which has increasingly become service driven. There is a growing need to better understand the possibilities for, and requirements of, designing modular service architectures. The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on the roots of the emerging research stream on service modularity, provide a concise overview of existing work on the subject, and outline an agenda for future research on service modularity and architecture. The articles in the special issue offer four diverse sets of research on service modularity and architecture.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is built on a literature review mapping the current body of literature on the topic and developing future research directions in service modularity and architecture.

Findings

The growing focus on services has triggered needs to investigate the suitability and implementation of physical-product-focused modularity principles and theories in service contexts, and to search for principles/theories that enhance services. The expanding research stream has explored various aspects of service modularity in empirical contexts. Future research should focus on service-specific modularity theories and principles, platform-based and mass-customized service business models, comparative research designs, customer perspectives and service experience, performance in context of modular services, empirical evidence of benefits and challenges, architectural innovation in services, modularization in multi-provider contexts, and modularity in hybrid offerings combining service and tangible product modules.

Originality/value

Nine areas are recommended for further research on service modularity and architecture. The introductory piece also discusses the roots of service modularity and provides an overview of current contributions.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 37 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 5 June 2017

Viktor Avlonitis and Juliana Hsuan

The purpose of this paper is to examine how modularity manifests in the design of services. The study brings new insights on the organization of service firms by…

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1305

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how modularity manifests in the design of services. The study brings new insights on the organization of service firms by empirically exploring and theoretically advancing the intersection of modularity and service design.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper compares two companies that offer similar services in the same geographical region but represent polar case types. A framework grounded on extant literature is constructed and applied to the two cases to assess its practicality and provide theoretical insights.

Findings

The paper demonstrates the effects of modularity and integrality on a range of different analytical levels in service architectures. Taking a holistic approach, the authors synthesize and empirically deploy a framework comprised of the three most prevalent themes in modularity and service design literature: Offering (service concept), intra-firm organization (service delivery system), and inter-firm relationships (service network). They posit that service architectures require the examination of different analytical levels due to the complex and dynamic nature of service business. Additionally, the analysis provides new insights on the mirroring hypothesis of modularity theory to services.

Originality/value

The paper provides a conceptualization of service architectures drawing on service design, modularity, and market relationships. The study enriches service design literature with elements from modularity theory and elaborates on the theoretical implications of service modularity in general.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 37 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 16 March 2010

Anu Bask, Mervi Lipponen, Mervi Rajahonka and Markku Tinnilä

Modules and modularity have been popular concepts in operations research and management rhetoric for decades. Nevertheless, it seems that there is no single universal…

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4656

Abstract

Purpose

Modules and modularity have been popular concepts in operations research and management rhetoric for decades. Nevertheless, it seems that there is no single universal definition of modularity for classical research themes such as modularity in physical products or modular manufacturing. The purpose of this paper is to describe the current state of modularity research and to clarify the concept and impacts of modularity by means of a literature review. The paper discusses whether the modularity concept originally developed in the context of physical products could be applied in the context of product‐related services.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, the authors use a methodology called systematic integrative literature review to describe the current state of modularity research and to define – based on the findings of the review – the themes that are most commonly related to the modularity concept. As service modularity research is a relatively new topic, the authors look for definitions and themes related to modularity from other areas of modularity research.

Findings

The paper presents four key themes and definitions associated with modularity in different perspectives. To illustrate how modularity can be comprehended in the service context, the paper presents examples related to logistics services.

Research limitations/implications

The use of an integrative literature review has its limitations and a more thorough review of service literature is needed for more in‐depth understanding of how modularity is actually manifested and conceptualized in the service context. In the future, in‐depth interviews of service providers will be needed for a more thorough understanding of whether the modularity approach can be used in services today and in the future and if so, how it can be applied in practice.

Practical implications

The findings may be useful particularly for manufacturers and logistics service providers in improving their service offerings and processes.

Originality/value

There is growing interest in issues related to modularity. The paper discusses the key themes related to modularity in the contexts of product, production and processes, organization and supply chain, and service. In addition, the paper illustrates some practical implications for modularity, particularly in the logistics services context.

Details

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-038X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2015

Mervi Vähätalo and Tomi Juhani Kallio

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the way in which the factors influencing a transformation towards or away from modularity, according to general modular systems…

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3316

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the way in which the factors influencing a transformation towards or away from modularity, according to general modular systems theory, appear in the context of health services, and the extent to which the special characteristics of health services might support or prevent its application.

Design/methodology/approach

The arguments constructed in the study are based on the theme of modularity, reflected against the special characteristics of health services identified in the context of health economics.

Findings

The results include 11 proposition pairs that direct health services both towards and away from modularity.

Research limitations/implications

Health services are highly heterogeneous in nature and the authors illustrate this with a wide range of examples from elderly care as the authors discuss the application of modularity in this context. Nevertheless, the authors recognise that modularity might suit some health services better than others. The findings provide potentially important information to health service managers and providers, enabling them to understand how modularity would benefit health service provision and where contradictions are to be expected.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the discourse on service modularity in general, and complements the literature on modularity with reference to both public and private health services.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 35 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 29 November 2018

Timo Pohjosenperä, Päivi Kekkonen, Saara Pekkarinen and Jari Juga

The purpose of this paper is to examine how modularity is used for enabling value creation in managing healthcare logistics services.

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1207

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how modularity is used for enabling value creation in managing healthcare logistics services.

Design/methodology/approach

Material logistics of four different kinds of hospitals is examined through a qualitative case study. The theoretical framework builds on the literature on healthcare logistics, service modularity and value creation.

Findings

The case hospitals have developed their material logistics independently from others when looking at the modularity of offerings, processes and organisations. Services, such as assortment management, shelving and developing an information platform, have been performed in-house partly by the care personnel, but steps towards modularised and standardised solutions are now being taken in the case hospitals, including ideas about outsourcing some of the services.

Research limitations/implications

This paper proposes seven modularity components for healthcare logistics management: segmentation, categorisation and unitisation of offerings, differentiation and decoupling of processes, and centralisation and specialisation of organisations. Thus, this study clarifies the three-dimensional concept of modularity as a cognitive frame for managing logistics services with heterogeneous customer needs in a rapidly changing healthcare environment.

Practical implications

Modularity offers a tool for developing logistics services inside the hospital and increases possibilities to consider also external logistics service providers.

Social implications

Managing healthcare logistics services through modularity has potential social implications in developing healthcare processes and changing the usage of health services. On a wider scale, modularity is helping healthcare systems reaching their goals in terms of service quality and cost.

Originality/value

This paper shows the context-specific antecedents of service modularity and the usage of modular thinking in managing healthcare logistics.

Details

The International Journal of Logistics Management, vol. 30 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-4093

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Article
Publication date: 23 May 2008

Saara Pekkarinen and Pauliina Ulkuniemi

This study aims to explore the literature related to modularity in developing and manufacturing physical products in order to employ the idea of modularity into the…

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4159

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the literature related to modularity in developing and manufacturing physical products in order to employ the idea of modularity into the business services context.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to answer the defined research question, the authors construct an empirically grounded model for modular service platform. The research design follows an abductive logic beginning with the construction of a theoretical pre‐understanding and elaborating upon it empirically. Streams of literature that are applied are service marketing and operations and product development and modularity research including product architecture design. In the empirical part of the study, the authors elaborate on these issues through a qualitative single case study.

Findings

The results show that the developed modular service platform including four modularity dimensions: service, process, organisational and customer interface dimensions can be used to create value in business services.

Originality/value

With a reviewing literature of modularisation of manufacturing products and processes, an empirically grounded model of this paper shows how the business service providers can use modularisation in platform approach to identify, develop and deliver new services cost efficiently and more flexibly.

Details

The International Journal of Logistics Management, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-4093

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Article
Publication date: 18 November 2020

Jessica Wehner, Ceren Altuntas Vural and Árni Halldórsson

Service modularity promotes efficiency at the provider end of the supply chain and customisation at the customer end. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how…

Abstract

Purpose

Service modularity promotes efficiency at the provider end of the supply chain and customisation at the customer end. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how logistics service modularity contributes to sustainable development through the means of energy efficiency. This is analysed in the context of logistics services for household waste collection.

Design/methodology/approach

A single case study methodology with embedded units is adopted where semi-structured interviews were conducted with a waste service provider (WSP) and buyers (municipalities) in Sweden, focussing on five types of logistics services for waste collection: collection of food and residual waste at apartments and one-family houses, as well as collection of gardening waste. Service modules are identified and analysed by blueprinting the service.

Findings

The findings show different service modules – standardised or customised – and their contribution to sustainable development operationalised through energy efficiency. Principles for an energy-centric service design are proposed.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to Swedish household waste collection setting. Promising efficiency through standardisation, logistics service modularity has a potential to improve energy efficiency as well. This neglected link between sustainability and service modularity offers fruitful research avenues.

Practical implications

This research is of practical relevance to waste logistics service providers and the municipality by suggesting principles for energy-centric service design. The service blueprint enables using logistics service modularity for improving energy efficiency in different logistics service settings.

Originality/value

This research incorporates an environmentally sustainable development perspective into logistics service modularity and contributes to the literature by exploring how energy efficiency is improved by modular design of logistics services. Furthermore, the study is one of the first to use service blueprinting to analyse logistics service modularity, providing a methodological contribution to that field in general and logistics in particular.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 51 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2016

Colin C.J. Cheng and Eric Shiu

While service scholars have generally supported the idea that service modularity enhances firm performance, the literature offers very little evidence of the actual…

Abstract

Purpose

While service scholars have generally supported the idea that service modularity enhances firm performance, the literature offers very little evidence of the actual process through which service modularity continuously contributes to firm performance. The purpose of this paper is to examine the link from a capability perspective: service modularity capabilities-service modularity-new service advantage-firm performance, as well as the moderating role of radical innovation capability in the effect of service modularity on new service advantage.

Design/methodology/approach

To examine this link, data were collected from a cross-industry survey of 231 leading service firms. Structural equation modeling and hierarchical moderated regression analyses were employed to test the model.

Findings

Analyses reveal that new service advantage mediates the service modularity-firm performance relationship. Moreover, service modularity capabilities act in an important antecedent role to configure service modularity. Among the findings, it is worth emphasizing that radical innovation capability not only strengthens the positive effect of, but also alleviates the negative effect of, service modularity on new service advantage.

Originality/value

This study provides a more complete understanding of how service modularity enhances firm performance by discovering the hidden role of new service advantage that bridges service modularity and firm performance, clarifying the role of service modularity capabilities in configuring service modularity, and confirming the important role of radical innovation capability in sustaining the effectiveness of service modularity.

Details

Journal of Service Theory and Practice, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2055-6225

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Article
Publication date: 12 January 2010

Carolien de Blok, Katrien Luijkx, Bert Meijboom and Jos Schols

The purpose of this paper is to show how modularity manifests in a service context, more specifically in the provision of care and services to independently living elderly.

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2811

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show how modularity manifests in a service context, more specifically in the provision of care and services to independently living elderly.

Design/methodology/approach

Four case studies provide insight into the specification of relevant components and their subsequent assembly into a customized package of care and services.

Findings

In all cases, component specification and package construction take place in two phases: partly before and partly during care delivery. Early client involvement allows for a combination of standard components that have a lower level of customization, whereas late client involvement allows for adaptation of these components resulting in a higher level of customization. The paper proposes that modularity theory should distinguish between the creation of modular offerings in care provision versus their creation in goods production, since the findings are the exact reverse of the state‐of‐the art knowledge in manufacturing modularity.

Research limitations/implications

The empirical part of this paper is limited to providers of elderly care and services in The Netherlands and is exploratory in nature. However, the newness of care and service modularity justifies the exploratory research approach.

Practical implications

This paper offers elderly care organizations in‐depth understanding of their complex and multi‐faceted specification process. The insights help both care and service providers to make well‐considered decisions as to what level of client involvement to allow and the type of modularity to apply.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the emerging literature on service modularity.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 30 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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