Product Service System Innovations

Within this project together with colleagues I aim to explore whether, and explain how product service system (PSS) innovations impact firms’ innovation behavior. We are interested to understand whether and how PSS innovations shift firms’ innovation trajectories towards more environmentally friendly directions in order to reduce the negative externalities that result from firms’ innovation activities. The empirical focus of this project is on mobility solutions (e.g., bike- and car-sharing systems), but also on medical technology (e.g., personalized medicine), IT (e.g., cloud computing and storage), chemical management in the B2B business (e.g., waste management) and in renewable energy (e.g., solar leasing).

In this project PSS are considered to be integrated offerings of tangible products, intangible services and the enabling infrastructure that provide a product-unspecific functional use value to their users (e.g. delivering mobility through car- or bike-sharing solutions instead of purchasing vehicles or bikes). When operating PSS solutions commonly no ownership transfer takes place to the user, who enters into an enduring contractual relationship with the offering firm (i.e. instead of a single purchase contract as often characteristic for product sales). During the PSS use, its user becomes temporary proprietor enabling a high use-flexibility. In the project we understand firms’ innovation behavior to be predetermined by corporate strategic and specific operational R&D objectives as well as the trajectory that firms pursue in their innovation activities.

Commonly, when firms start developing PSS they diverge from their established product innovation trajectory. Hence, they need to adjust internal processes, but also suddenly the product design optimized for a sales focused business model might become suboptimal. Hence, the business logic fit decreases and firms have to redesign the products to fit optimally with the PSS business logic again (see figure below).

PSS_inno_trejectoryWithin the exploratory project phase we applied primarily case studies techniques interviewing project managers that were responsible for developing PSS innovations across numerous countries.

Information Communication Technology  Mobility  Waste and chemical management 
  • Amadeus, Spain
  • Aqilla, UK
  • OpenERP community, Belgium
  • Sage Group, UK
  • Telefoníca, Spain
  • Webforum, Sweden
  • Car2Go, Germany
  • City Car Club, UK
  • DriveNow, Germany
  • Hertz on Demand, US
  • GoGet, Australia
  • Mobility Car Sharing
  • Mu by Peugeot, Germany
  • Zazcar, Brazil
  • Amvitec, Greece
  • Cabot Speciality Fluids, UK
  • Printers Cloth Company, UK
  • Print Cloths, UK
  • Safechem, Germany
  • Tiefenbacher, Germany
Sustainable energy Medical technology
  • CBE Solar, Brazil
  • Kayema Energy Solutions, Africa
  • Lakeland Electric, US
  • SunEdison, US
  • SunTank, South Africa
  • Tioga Energy, US
  • General Electric, UK
  • HealthTronics, US
  • Medicorp, Mexico
  • Olympus, Japan
  • Seneca, Germany
  • United Medical Systems, Germany 

The project is led by me and conducted jointly with the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). I also collaborate with colleagues at the Centre for Sustainability Management (CSM) at Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

See also the project homepage at Kiel University.