Business Models for Business-to-Business Services



Business-to-Business services are the most important part of most developed countries' economies, and have attracted particular interest in recent years due to the growth in outsourcing, the displacement of manufacturing activity to developing economies such as China and India, and the 'blurring of the boundaries' between manufacturing and services.
Despite this, they attract relatively little research in Operations and Supply Management.  This presentaion outlines the background to and plans for my two-year Fellowship, funded by the UK ESRC, to examine B2B services utilising the notion of business models, which was developed in an e-business context, but is now being adopted more generally.
The work takes as its starting point a definition of 'services' based not on the typical characteristics of intangibility, heterogeneity etc ("IHIP"), but on institutional arrangements based on property rights (Araujo and Spring, 2006). It also has some relationship, although also some tensions with, the much hyped "Service-Dominant Logic" of Vargo and Lusch, in that there is a focus on how customers gain access to suppliers' capabilities, whether through embodied products which are exchanaged, access to equipment through rental or leasing arrangements, or direct service provision. The Business Model concept affords some clarity and structure in that it focusses attention on revenue models, network structures, the definition of transactions, and the vehicles by which capabilities are accessed.

The Fellowship has as its core activity a programme of action research in several firms, some of whom are 'old economy' manufacturing firms shifting into services, and some of whom are 'new economy' firms e.g. software houses who are adjusting the basis on which they deliver and sell their offering. This is complemented by work of an international nature that draws together strands of similar work with the aim of establishing a legacy network of research on this subject. The paper will outline the theoretical approach, the plans for the research programme, and opportunities to be involved.

The Fellowship is part of the Advanced Institute of Management Research initiative, and I will be one of six Fellows researching services from 2008-2010.
Contact information:
Prof.dr. J.Y.F. Wynstra