Conceptualising Solutions in Business Networks: The Case of Heavy Vehicle Maintenance
Doctoral thesis, 2020
Driven by demands for more sustainable transport, lower transport costs and changes of the roles and business models within the transport industry, actors strive to improve the efficiency of transport systems. Vehicle maintenance, as an enabler for uptime and robustness of transport, has therefore drawn attention. Managers strive to elucidate whether alternative approaches and designs can result in new vehicle maintenance solutions to boost the efficiency of firms, vehicle utilisation and transport.
Supporting this quest, this thesis aims to extend current understandings concerning solutions in business networks based on a single case study encompassing a selection of firms involved in road transport in Sweden. The case study focuses on maintenance solutions for heavy vehicles. In order to situate those solutions within the setting of road transport, empirical data concerning firms and other, related, solutions in the broader context of heavy vehicle maintenance has been collected.
The case analysis shows that solutions rely on combining and adapting resources. Beyond that, however, the results of the thesis stress that solutions also depend on the linking and adjustment of activities and the involvement of actors; it is through the interaction among actors that firms jointly organise the activities and resources required for solutions. Based on the conceptual model developed, the thesis highlights the temporal and spatial aspects of solutions embedded in business networks and points to interdependencies among the activities and resources involved. The thesis also underscores how the interdependencies among solutions in business networks can result in that a change to one solution could have ramifications for the perceived efficiency, effectiveness and value of other solutions.
Finally, the thesis highlights the importance of actors to transcend a product-centric or customer-centric logic and suggests an interaction-centric approach to solutions that acknowledges the interconnected and interdependent characteristics of solutions in business networks.
Heavy Vehicle Maintenance
Industrial Network Approach
Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Supply and Operations Management
By applying an interorganisational and interactive approach to business-to-business solutions, the thesis investigates how the efficiency and value of solutions could be further improved. For actors to improve the value of solutions, the thesis argues for an interaction-centric approach to solutions, where the actors jointly address the implications of connectedness of solutions resulting from interdependencies across firm boundaries. Also involving a specific focus on maintenance solutions for heavy vehicles, the thesis recommends how managers in the industry could improve the efficiency of transport by jointly coordinate the activities and resources involved in, or influencing, the maintenance.
Firms are interconnected by business relationships and form business networks. In business networks, firms interact to develop, sell, purchase, and use solutions. Through business relationships, firms also influence each other through linking activities and combining resources across firm boundaries, resulting in that the solutions become connected and interdependent. As a consequence, changing a solution at one end of the business network may drive the need for changes to other solutions elsewhere in the network.
The research takes an interorganisational and interactive approach to solutions in business networks and explores why and how solutions are connected and interdependent. A key conclusion is that an interaction-centric approach to solutions, where actors jointly organise the activities and resources involved in solutions, could improve the efficiency and value of solutions. The thesis develops a conceptual model of solutions in business networks and based on that model elaborate implications for future research and recommendations for managers.
With a specific focus on maintenance solutions for heavy vehicles used for road transport, the thesis also investigates how the efficiency of vehicle utilisation and transport could be further improved. The findings highlight that the activities and resources involved in maintenance solutions are connected to the activities and resources of other solutions, such as the transport of goods. For that reason, the thesis recommends hauliers, transport buyers, vehicle manufacturers, and workshops to jointly coordinate solutions in order to improve the efficiency of vehicle maintenance, vehicle utilisation, and road transport.
Efficient Maintenance for Sustaninable Transport Solutions (EMATS)
VINNOVA (2014-06245), 2015-04-01 -- 2018-03-31.
Volvo Group, 2016-01-01 -- 2016-12-31.
Areas of Advance
Transport Systems and Logistics
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4733
The dissertation can be accessed through Zoom, and the room will open shortly before 13.00. We would kindly ask you to keep the video off and mute the microphone during the defense. At the end of the session there will be an opportunity to ask questions through Zoom. In case there will be any updates about the event, these will be posted on this website.
Opponent: Professor Aino Halinen-Kaila, University of Turku, Finland