Product biographies in servitization and the circular economy

Martin Spring, Luis Araujo

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This paper questions the assumption in much of the marketing and product-service literature that products can be treated as stable platforms for the delivery of services. Instead, it uses the notion of the product biography to argue that products are chronically unstable, both physically and institutionally, and focusses on the managerial and institutional effort required to temporarily stabilise and qualify products for exchange or service value-creation. The context of the circular economy, which presents particularly acute challenges of qualification, is used to stimulate insights into how the product biography approach can inform the servitization debate. In particular, the circular economy perspective emphasises the need to see products as qualified by and constitutive of a distributed network, rather than defined once and for all by their producer, and points to entrepreneurial opportunity in the moments of transition between singularised, unique specimens and general, commodified, manageable objects – and vice versa. The wider and multiple product biographies occasioned by the circular economy also lead to reconfiguration of networks, as new potential valuations give rise to new entrepreneurial spaces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Early online date7 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Products
  • Service
  • Servitization
  • Product biography
  • Internet of Things
  • Repair


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