Systems sales as a competitive response to the Asian challenge: Case of a global ship power supplier

Anna Salonen, Mika Gabrielsson*, Zuhair Al-Obaidi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Cost-based competition from East Asia has forced western companies to reassess their competitive strategies. It is difficult for western companies to attain cost leadership because of high domestic labor costs. Thus it is crucial to pursue differentiation. One way to do this is to shift the market from products to systems. To examine the role of systems as an enhancer of competitive advantage, this study synthesizes the literature concerning competitive advantage and systems. The emerging theoretical framework is then tested against an in-depth case study of a Finland-based ship power supplier. The findings suggest that systems can be a value-enhancing strategy whereby the seller takes over the buyer's value activities related to systems integration. Such forward integration results in enhanced systems performance at a lower total cost. This strategy, based on the seller's rare and valuable resources, is difficult for cost-based competitors to imitate or substitute.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalIndustrial Marketing Management
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)740-750
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2006
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • Competitive advantage
  • Competitiveness
  • Cost-competition
  • Product strategy
  • Systems
  • Systems sales


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