Complexity in Product-Service Systems: Review and Framework

Wenting Zou*, Saara A. Brax, Risto Rajala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)


This study systematically reviews the existing research literature on product-service-systems (PSSs) to analyze the nature and characteristics of complexity in the PSS context. While mastering the PSS strategy can become a competitive advantage for manufacturing companies, moving to providing advanced services through PSSs increases the complexity of the offering and its implementation. How the manufacturing company can manage this complexity plays a critical role for the success of its PSS strategy. Although research in PSS strategies has grown significantly in recent years, and the existing literature recognizes that complexity is a common feature in PSS, the nature and content of complexity experienced by manufacturing companies remains largely unexplored. Based on a systematic literature review approach, this study develops a conceptual framework of complexity in PSSs. Following systematic search and screening procedure, 23 articles addressing complexity in the PSS context are identified and form the sample of the review. Using content analysis methods, four dimensions of complexity in PSS are identified in the articles: multiplicity, diversity, interdependence, and variability. The four dimensions are explained and elaborated. The review demonstrates that a major research gap exists in the field, and thus suggest several research avenues for further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-8
Number of pages6
JournalProcedia CIRP
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventCIRP Conference on Industrial Product Service Systems - Linköping, Sweden
Duration: 29 May 201831 May 2018
Conference number: 10


  • complexity
  • industrial services
  • manufacturer
  • product-service systems
  • PSS
  • PSS implementation
  • service components
  • servitization


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