Productization of knowledge-intensive business services: A managerial perspective

Katriina Järvi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Finding a balance between efficiency and customer-orientation is a familiar challenge in all service companies. Productization of services has been suggested as one solution to this challenge, and it has become an approach favoured by consultants. The challenge is also well known among academics but the theoretical background has been scattered and the terminology varying – concepts such as standardization, conceptualization and modularization have been used. The aim of this dissertation is to enhance understanding about productization through the clarification of concepts and the integration of practical applications to theories. There are several theories that have analyzed the topic although the concept of productization has not been used. Such theories are service marketing, New Service Development, service engineering and service innovation. The dissertation consists of an introduction essay and four articles. The research context is knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS). In KIBS companies, inefficient production of services is a typical problem because the complexity of KIBS offerings easily leads to a high degree of customization and low generalizability. A multiple case study was carried out; the primary data consists of interviews in eight Finnish KIBS companies. Observation was used as a supplementary data collection method in the studies of two articles. The dissertation provides new knowledge about the motives, challenges, benefits and effects of productization; also the antecedents of successful productization are included in the analysis. Both the development of internal collaboration and the emphasis on customer-orientation during productization have been examined. The study also links the perspective of innovation to productization. In the end of the study, a framework for customer-oriented productization in KIBS companies was developed. The study provides three kinds of new knowledge. Firstly, it clarifies the concept of productization and distinguishes it from standardization and other neighbouring concepts. By linking productization to central traditions of service research, it strengthens the theoretical basis of the concept. Secondly, the study provides new knowledge about productization of KIBS offerings, which have only rarely been studied from this viewpoint. Thirdly, the framework of customer-oriented productization crystallizes the main phases of productization and the sequence in which these activities can be undertaken. Besides the theoretical contribution, the framework helps practitioners carry out productization more consciously and systematically.
Translated title of the contributionOsaamisintensiivisten liike-elämän palvelujen tuotteistaminen: Johtamisnäkökulma
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Holmström, Jan, Supervising Professor
  • Toivonen, Marja, Thesis Advisor, External person
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6889-3
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6890-9
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • service productization
  • knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS)


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