Purpose – Increased competition and more extensive customer needs have motivated companies to develop integrated solutions. In practice, companies struggle to co‐create effective solutions that meet customer needs. The purpose of this paper is to identify critical factors affecting the effective co‐creation of customer‐focused solutions within business networks. Design/methodology/approach – The study investigates the co‐creation of two different types of solution. Data were collected from two business networks comprising 13 companies, including suppliers and their customers. The empirical data comprise 51 interviews and observations made at 21 company workshops. Findings – Effective co‐creation of solutions requires a fit between the perceptions of multiple suppliers and their customers with regard to core content, operations and processes, customer experience and value of the solution. Co‐creation is affected by, e.g. customer's preferences for participation and value, and the degree of competition, clarity of role division and rapport among the suppliers. Research limitations/implications – Further empirical research is needed to examine how companies could overcome the problems identified, and reap the opportunities arising from the factors affecting the co‐creation of solutions. Practical implications – The paper presents a framework that outlines practical activities that help firms to reconcile the perspectives of different actors, and to facilitate the integration of resources when co‐creating solutions within business networks. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the solutions literature by studying solutions as a network‐level process of resource integration between multiple suppliers and their mutual customers, and by applying a service concept framework to the study of integrated solutions.
Journal of Service Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 3, 2012
Keywords: Integrated solution; Co‐creation; Service concept; Business network; Customers; Business development
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