Building bridges: Boundary spanners in servitized supply chains

Mehmet Chakkol, Antonios Karatzas, Mark Johnson, Jan Godsell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Solutions provision depends on effective and efficient supply chains. Existing discourse within servitization has remained at the organisational or inter-organisational level with a limited emphasis on the role of individuals. However, supply chains are not just relationships between organisations, they are complex, inter-personal relationships that span organisational boundaries. The limited focus on boundary spanners and their interactions means that managerial roles critical for the provision of solutions remain unidentified. The purpose of this paper is to identify the functions, roles and practices of boundary spanners that connect organisations and enable the effective provision of solutions.

Design/methodology/approach: A case study comprising 61 interviews in 11 firms was conducted in the UK network of a commercial vehicles manufacturer, to investigate boundary spanning for product and solutions provision.

Findings: The functions of boundary spanners move from communicating product and price features in product provision towards strategic communication, dissonance reduction, professional education, consultation and leveraging offerings in solutions provision. The study also identifies the boundary spanning roles and practices that form these functions for solutions provision.

Originality/value: This is the first study in servitization that identifies and describes the boundary spanning functions, roles and practices. By adopting the lens of boundary spanning, the research addresses the lack of empirical managerial-level enquiry within servitization research. It extends the theoretical discussion on the differences between supply chain management in servitized vs product contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-604
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2018

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