Replicating hybrid solutions for business customers: a proposed framework for service infusion success
Identifying factors associated with service infusion success has become an important issue in theory and practice, as manufacturers turn to services to advance performance. The goals of this dissertation are to identify the key factors associated with service infusion success and develop an integrative framework and associated research propositions to isolate the underlying determinants of successful hybrid solution strategies for business customers. This dissertation is comprised of two phases. The first phase taps into the experience and learning gained by executives from Fortune-100 manufacturing firms who are managing the transition from goods to hybrid offerings for their customers. A discovery-oriented, theory-in-use approach is adopted to glean insights concerning the factors that facilitate and hinder those service transition strategies. Twenty-eight interviews were conducted with key executives, transcripts were analyzed and key themes were identified with special attention directed to the particular capabilities that managers consider crucial for successful service-growth strategies. One such capability centers on the ability of a firm to successfully transfer newly-developed hybrid solutions from one customer engagement to another. Building on this foundation, phase two involves a case study that provides an in-depth examination of the hybrid offering replication process in a business-to-business firm attempting to replicate four strategic hybrid offerings. Emergent themes, based on 13 manager interviews, reveal factors that promote or impede successful hybrid offering transfer. Among the factors that underlie successful hybrid offering transfers across customer engagements are close customer relationships, a clear value proposition embraced by organizational numbers, an accurate forecast of market potential, and collaborative working relationships across units. The findings from the field studies provided a catalyst for a deeper examination of existing literature and formed the building blocks for the conceptual model and several key research propositions related to the successful transfer of hybrid offerings. The model isolates five sets of factors that influence the hybrid offering transfer process, including the characteristics of (1) the source project team, (2) the seeking project team, (3) the hybrid offering, (4) the relationship exchange, and (5) the customer. The conceptualization isolates the critical role that the customer assumes in service infusion strategy implementation.