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Title: Differentiation through services in product-centric b2b companies
Author: Raddats, Christopher Owen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2680 3522
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis concerns companies that have traditionally built their businesses by selling products that are using services to augment or replace sales of these products, in a business-to-business (b2b) environment. These companies have been termed productcentric businesses or PCBs. The objectives of the research were as follows; to assess how PCBs measure the success of their services; to determine which factors are most important in creating success; to understand the drivers that cause PCBs to enhance their focus on services; to identify possible service strategies to find out which ones create success; to investigate how PCBs can best organise their businesses to achieve success through services. A literature review was carried out on articles that addressed each objective. Most previous research was exploratory in nature, based on case studies or interviews with a limited number of company managers. There have been calls for academics to carry out quantitative research in this area to provide more of a confirmatory approach. This is the major gap in the literature that this research sought to fill. The author adopted a postpositivist theoretical position to address this research. A mixed methodology was used to answer the research questions, using both qualitative (the exploratory phase) and quantitative (the confirmatory phase) methods. The qualitative phase involved interviewing 40 managers in 25 organisations across 11 sectors. This data was analysed using template analysis and was used (together with the literature) to create a survey, to which managers in 155 organisations responded. Quantitative data was analysed using a number of techniques; exploratory factor analysis (EFA), multivariate analysis of variance (Manova), discriminant analysis, independent samples t-test and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Two factors were identified that PCBs use to measure the success of their services: 'Corporate success' and 'Satisfaction & delivery', with the former being the primary measure. Five factors were identified that create success, with the order of importance as follows: 'Industry standing', 'Personnel', 'Team working', 'Services methods & infrastructure' and 'Solution approach'. The main drivers on PCBs to enhance their focus on services were categorised as 'Strategic options', 'Customer demands' and 'Product characteristics'. A new service strategy typology was proposed based on two dimensions: whether services are closely linked to a company's own products or its own and those of third parties; whether services are closely aligned to products or more aligned to customers' operational activities. Each of the four strategic positions from this typology was tested to determine which created 'Corporate success', with the only one that did being 'Product-attached services on own products' (e.g. product installation, training, technical support) when these products create market differentiation. Post-hoc analysis also showed that high levels of 'Corporate success' lead to increased product sales. Whether an independent service organisation creates 'Corporate success' was also tested, with the results showing that for the population as a whole this was not the case, but for PCBs in the Complex Products & Systems (CoPS) sectors it was. This research made a methodological contribution since it is one of the first studies to address the topic using quantitative methods. A number of theoretical contributions have also been made, e.g. those factors used to measure and create success were identified; a new service typology was proposed and used to test which strategy created services success, with services success shown to lead to product success; the significance of an independent service organisation was shown for companies in the CoPS sectors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available