Mitigating uncertainty for industrial service operations: a multi case study

Christopher Durugbo*, John Ahmet Erkoyuncu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the evolution of industrial service uncertainties and the approaches for mitigating these uncertainties. The paper also sheds light on how the interplay of potential uncertainties due to service operation challenges shapes the decisiveness of product-centric businesses. Design/methodology/approach – To better understand how industrial firms mitigate uncertainties of industrial service provision by their supply chains, the authors adopted a qualitative multi-case logic methodology. The approach is based on a research model of uncertainty avoidance and uncertainty reduction which the authors applied in an exploratory study with three major multi-national firms in the aerospace industry: BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce. Findings – From the analysis, the authors found that to mitigate industrial service uncertainty, there is a need for aftermarket-oriented organisation, audit-oriented governance, relationship-oriented intelligence and lifecycle-oriented contracts. The authors also found that value uncertainty originating from unpredictability in client needs and project scope and structural uncertainty caused by volatility and variability of business structures are also important quandaries in decision making situations of firms towards their supply chains for industrial services. Originality/value – The paper makes two useful contributions. First, it provides an assessment of the nature of uncertainty within operations for providing industrial services. Second, the paper identifies orientations for industrial service uncertainty mitigation. Whereas product-centric businesses firms tend to vary in their states for uncertainty avoidance and reduction, the work suggest similar orientations for uncertainty mitigation across these firms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-571
Number of pages40
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Industrial services
  • Operations risk management and resilience
  • Servitization


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