Interplay between servitization and platforms: a longitudinal case study

Wenhui Fu (First Author), Min Zhang (Participant Author), Xiande Zhao (Participant Author), Fu Jia

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal


Purpose: This paper aims to empirically explore the evolution of servitization and how platforms affect the transition between the stages of servitization. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted an in-depth case study of a Chinese manufacturer (i.e. Haier) using a longitudinal design. Three rounds of data collection were conducted between 2014 and 2020. The authors carried out 50 semi-structured interviews and 11 workshops to collect data from senior and middle managers of Haier and its business partners. Findings: The authors found that Haier’s servitization journey includes three stages (i.e. product-oriented solution, integrated solution and smart connected solutions) that evolve in the target of the services and the digital components of the solutions. Haier has also developed three types of platforms (i.e. service platform, supply chain platform and platform ecosystem) to support the implementation of servitization. The empirical evidence reveals that platforms can address the complexities that emerged when Haier implements the different stages of servitization as well as enable Haier to transition from one stage of servitization to the next. Originality/value: This study enhances the current understanding of the evolution of servitization and the roles of digital technologies in the transition between the stages of servitization. It also provides empirical evidence regarding how the platform approach enables the development of servitization. By clarifying the interplay between servitization and platforms, this study provides guidelines for managers on how to develop platforms to both advance and benefit from servitization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-499
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Digitalization
  • Longitudinal case study
  • Platform
  • Servitization

Indexed by

  • ABDC-A
  • SSCI


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