Investigating Tensional Knots in Servitizing Firms through Communicative Processes

Jawwad Raja*, Isabelle Fabienne Neufang, Thomas Frandsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Tensions and paradoxes have gained considerable traction in the broader general management literature in recent years. Within the servitization domain, however, they are only starting to receive attention. This paper explores the tensions that industrial firms encounter when attempting to integrate services and solutions into their offerings. Following an exploratory multiple case study approach, we identify several tensions experienced at the intra- and interorganizational levels by three industrial firms. By drawing on the four flows model—activity coordination, organizational self-structuring, institutional positioning, and membership negotiation—we identify tensions at the intersection of the flows. The findings elucidate how many of the identified tensions become knotted and movement across organizational levels is created through communicative processes. We make contributions to the literature by drawing on communicative processes to explain how paradoxical tensions emerge within a servitization context and become entangled. As servitizing firms move toward offering advanced services, they are likely to face an increasing number of tensions spanning intra- and interorganizational levels. Our study raises important implications as inextricable entanglements between tensions creates complexity, which requires managers to focus more clearly on the challenge of coping with these on an ongoing basis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Pages (from-to)359-379
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Paradox
  • Tensions
  • Tensional knot
  • Servitization
  • Communication as constitutive of organization (CCO)
  • Communication

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