Special Issue of the Competitiveness Review


Integrating Services into Manufacturing: Servitization and Territorial Competitiveness 


Guest Editors:


Ferran Vendrell-Herrero, University of Birmingham

James Wilson, Orkestra-Basque Institute of Competitiveness, University of Deusto


Submission deadline : January 5th 2015


Background and Motivation:

Business models exclusively focused on exploiting economies of scale are no longer suitable in Western economies with relatively high wages and developed welfare systems. A transition towards more innovation-based and difficult-to-imitate economic models would permit economies in the developed world to maintain growth trends and competitiveness. This development can take place through the integration of differentiated services into manufacturing offerings, a phenomenon described in the literature as servitization (Vandermerwe and Rada, 1988; Baines et al., 2009).


A generalised decrease of returns on product sales, coupled with an increased focus on customer satisfaction has been encouraging a rising number of companies to supplement their product offerings with services along the whole product lifecycle. The combination of product-service offerings help in reducing vulnerability and volatility of cash flows throughout the life of a product, allowing for higher shareholder value. In addition, competitive advantages achieved through services are often more sustainable since, being less visible and more labour dependent, services are more difficult to imitate than other strategies focused on product innovation, technological superiority or low prices. Finally, service sectors benefit from the development of digital technology, especially in rural areas (Rahman et al., 2011). Thus servitization is recognized as an important source of competitive advantage and firm performance (Neely, 2008; Visnjic and Van Looy, 2013).

Current research is rich in firm-based case studies and descriptions of successful service-oriented business models. Nevertheless, and despite recognition in the US and Europe of the potential transformative power of service innovation (see for example European Commission, 2011), it remains undeveloped in terms of analysis of the links between servitization processes and territorial competitiveness. For example, academics in the field have not yet offered specific empirical approaches to assess the degree of servitization that a region and/or its component industries have experienced.


The current literature is also silent with regards analysis of public policies encouraging the development of service-oriented strategies in firms or groups of firms as a means to driving forward territorial competitiveness. Indeed, while there is burgeoning research on policy mix for innovation and competitiveness (Cooke et al., 2011; Flanagan et al., 2011; Borras and Edquist, 2013; Ketels, 2013), there is little explicit analysis of how these policy mixes might relate to servitization processes (see Hsie and Lee (2012) as one of the exceptions). In this context and at this juncture, greater academic analysis of the link between servitization, territorial competitiveness and associated public policies has the potential to make important impacts.


Goals and Topics:

The Special Issue welcomes papers that offer novel research contributions in exploring the links between servitization and territorial competitiveness. Papers may make theoretical and/or empirical contributions on the following suggested topics:


      Theoretical developments on the links between servitization and competitiveness.
      Case studies on implementing service strategies in a given industry or region.
      Empirical approaches-methods on how to estimate the degree of servitization of a region and/or industry.
      Empirical approaches-methods linking servitization and competitiveness of regions and countries.
      Assessment of public policies focusing on the development of service initiatives.



1.     All papers will be subject to double-blind peer review, according to author guidelines available at:

2.     Submissions to Competitiveness Review are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts: (please select the correct special issue from the drop-down menu)

Submission deadline : January 5th 2015

Take note that there is a Servitzation conference at Deusto University in Bilbao, Spain in November 2014 ( This can serve to expose papers and get pre-emptive feedback from peers and the editors of this special issue.

Papers will be published in 2015.


Baines, T. S., H. W. Lightfoot, O. Benedettini, and J. M. Kay. 2009. The servitization of manufacturing: A review of literature and reflection on future challenges. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 20: 547–567.

Borras and Edquist (2013). The choice of innovation policy instruments.  Technological forecasting and social change, 80(8): 1513–1522.

Cooke, P., Asheim, B., Boschma, R., Martin, R., Schwartz, D. and Todtling, F. 2011. Handbook of Regional Innovation and Growth. Cheltenham:Edward Elgar.

European Commission. 2011. Meeting the challenge of Europe 2020: The transformative power of service innovation, Report by the Expert Panel on Service Innovation in the EU.

Flanagan, K., Uyarra, E. and Laranja, M. 2011. Reconceptualising the policy mix for innovation, Research Policy, 40(5): 702–713.

Hsie, P.F., Lee, C.S. (2012). A note on value creation in consumption-oriented regional service clusters. Competitiveness Review, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 170-180.

Ketels, Christian (2013). Recent Research on Competitiveness and Clusters: What Are the Implications for Regional Policy? Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 6 (2): 269-284

Neely A. 2008. Exploring the financial consequences of the servitization of manufacturing. Operations Management Research 1(2): 103–118.

Rahman, S.M., Tootoonchi, A., Monahan, M.L. (2011). Digital technology: a vehicle for making rural businesses competitive. Competitiveness Review, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 441-451.

Vandermerwe S, Rada J. 1988. Servitization of business: adding value by adding services. European Management Journal 6(4): 314–324.

Visnjic, I.K. and Van Looy, B. 2013. Servitization: Disentangling the impact of service business model innovation on manufacturing firm performance. Journal of Operations Management, 31(4), pp. 169-180.

Competitiveness Review Editors : Philippe Gugler (Center for Competitiveness - University of Fribourg) and Christian Ketels (Institute For Strategy and Competitiveness – Harvard Business School)


Prof. Dr. Philippe Gugler
Center for Competitiveness
Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences
University of Fribourg - Switzerland
Bd Pérolles 90
CH - 1700 Fribourg
tel. +41 26 300 82 26
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