Exploring the root causes of servitization challenges: an organisational boundary perspective

Ali Ziaee Bigdeli*, Kawaljeet Kapoor, Andreas Schroeder, Omid Omidvar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This paper explains how servitization disrupts long-established internal and external boundaries of product-focused manufacturers and investigates the root causes of servitization challenges. Design/methodology/approach: The authors draw from the collective experiences of 20 senior executives from ten multinational manufacturers involved in servitization, using a multiple case study approach, and employ a codebook thematic analysis technique. Findings: The authors develop an integrative framework based on the theoretical notions of power, competency and identity boundaries to offer insights into the root causes of various servitization-related challenges. Research limitations/implications: Although the extant literature discusses servitization challenges, it does not examine the underlying root causes that create them in the first place. This study contributes to the extant research by establishing rational links between organisational boundaries (internal and external) and servitization challenges in the interest of building a coherent and systematically integrated body of theory that can be successfully applied and built upon by future research. Practical implications: This study provides a foundation for managers to recognise, anticipate and systematically manage various boundary-related challenges triggered by servitization. Originality/value: It is one of the first studies to employ the concept of organisational boundary to understand the challenges created by servitization and to account for both internal (between different functions of the same organisation) and external boundaries (between an organisation and its external stakeholders) to establish a holistic understanding of the impacts of servitization on manufacturers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-573
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number5
Early online date1 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact permissions@emerald.com.

Funding: This work was supported by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) grant Ref ES/P010148/1 ‘Pathways towards Servitization: A trans-national study of Organisational Transformation.


  • Organisational boundary
  • Servitization
  • Servitization challenges


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