Servitization: A contemporary thematic review of four major research streams
Relevant literature was identified through undertaking a keyword search, based on the research team’s knowledge of the topic (Transfield et al., 2003). The following terms were used: ‘after-sales services’, ‘industrial services’, ‘product-related services’, ‘product-service system’, ‘servitization’, ‘servitisation’ ‘servicification’, ‘service infusion’, ‘solutions’ and ‘transition from product to services.’ To conduct the search, the Scopus database was used, using title, abstract and keyword fields, searching the ‘Business, Management & Accounting’ subject area. Transfield et al. (2003) note the importance of only including work that meets all the inclusion criteria and which manifests none of the exclusion criteria. For this study, four criteria were applied. First, research fully published between January 2005 and December 2017 (inclusive) was selected to ensure that the review was both contemporary and comprehensive, since it is within this period that most papers have been published (Baines et al., 2017). Second, papers were selected in journals which were in the Academic Journal Guide (AJG) , thereby excluding journals from other disciplines and books/conference papers. Third, papers were published in journals ranked at least 2* by the AJG to ensure that only work that met a high quality threshold was included (according to the AJG, journals ranked 2* and above publish original research). Fourth, papers were selected that focused on manufacturers’ services and solutions, as the term ‘solution’, in particular, is sometimes used in other contexts.
272 papers provisionally met these search criteria and were retrieved, and two of the research team then read the abstracts of these papers. As Transfield et al. (2003) find, decisions regarding inclusion and exclusion remain relatively subjective and when an abstract was ambiguous (in terms of what the paper was about), the full paper was read by the research team members and a decision made about whether it should be included. This was particularly the case for the fourth criterion; that is, whether papers about ‘solutions’ were concerning this topic, or some other aspect of manufacturing. At this point, 65 papers were removed due to little focus on the core topic. The authors reviewed the list of papers from this search to ensure its completeness, and through a snowballing approach (Greenhalgh and Peacock, 2005), considered other papers in the original sample’s references and subsequent papers that referenced the original sample’s papers. Using Google Scholar, 12 additional papers were added to the final list at this point; eight through backward and four through forward snowballing.
In total, 219 papers met all the criteria for inclusion in the review.
- Digital servitization
- Service infusion
- Service maturation