When and why do customer solutions pay of in business markets?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 45(2017)4, 490-512 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11747-017-0529-6
Manufacturers invest in customer solutions to differentiate their offerings and sustain profitability despite declining margins from goods sales. Notwithstanding strong managerial and academic interest, an examination of whether and explanations for when and why solutions translate into superior performance are lacking. We test hypotheses developed from the resource-based theory and transaction cost economics, supplemented with in-depth theory-in-use interviews, on primary and secondary data collected from 175 manufacturers. From a model that corrects for endogeneity, the findings suggest that, compared with other service offerings, solutions are associated with increased return on sales. This positive profitability effect is enhanced in firms with greater sales capabilities; it is stronger in industries with greater buyer power but weaker in technology-intensive industries. These results caution against the simplistic view of solutions as a universal route to gaining competitive advantage and aid in better identifying the role of solutions in a manufacturer’s offering portfolio.
The accepted and peer reviewed manuscript to the article