Reconceptualizing the service paradox in engineering companies: is HR a missing link?

Stewart Johnstone, Adrian Wilkinson, Andrew Dainty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Many global engineering organizations have gradually shifted away from the provision of tangible products toward the provision of high-value-combined product-service solutions. This business paradigm is purported to represent a key strategic opportunity for such firms, and has attracted the attention of practitioners, consultants, and researchers. However, it has also been recognized that many firms fail to generate increased financial returns, the so-called the 'service paradox.' Despite an emerging international research literature which alludes to cultural and human resource challenges, few studies have explicitly explored such issues from a human resource (HR) perspective. Informed by two in-depth case studies of global engineering organizations in the U. K., this paper examines the HR challenges and reveals the complex realities of enacting product-service (PS) strategies in practice. It reveals that even where services have proved profitable, firms may still encounter various HR challenges, and struggle to fully exploit their service strategies. Addressing such challenges may represent a key enabler in delivering integrated product-services in organizations attempting to mesh distinctive engineering and service paradigms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6730695
Pages (from-to)275-284
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number2
Early online date31 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014


  • engineering industries
  • human resource management (HRM)
  • service
  • solutions
  • strategy


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