A configurational approach to understanding relationship characteristics in differing levels of servitization

Victoria Kramer, Manfred Krafft*, Kaj Storbacka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In their transition from product-based to value-based offerings, B2B suppliers progress through different levels of servitization. These levels are characterized by the type of offering sold (products, services, bundles, or solutions) and the nature of business interaction (transactional vs. relational). This study sheds light on which configurations of customer-supplier relationship characteristics are associated with specific levels of servitization. Emerging from the theories-in-use concept, the authors build a conceptual framework entailing such characteristics and levels of servitization. To empirically investigate this framework, a survey with 182 industrial salespeople is analyzed using fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). The authors identify equifinal relationship configurations of ‘trust and dependence’, ‘communication’, ‘supplier competence’, ‘customer predispositions’, and ‘price sensitivity’ for 11 different servitization levels. This research extends academia's understanding of servitization by contextualizing when and how different types of offerings are sold. Suppliers can use these insights to better identify the appropriate offering type and business interaction approach for the context in which they are operating.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalIndustrial Marketing Management
Pages (from-to)42-65
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 02.2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Business-to-business marketing
  • Customer-supplier relationships
  • fsQCA
  • Servitization


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