Uncertainty management in engineering-service development: the role of organisational capabilities

Tabea Ramirez Hernandez, Melanie E. Kreye*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Engineering-service (ES) development is characterised by high uncertainty, the management of which is crucial for the success of the offering during the provision of ESs. This paper studies suitable organisational capabilities to address different uncertainty types. Design/methodology/approach: Based on conceptualisation of individual uncertainty types and organisational capabilities, this study investigated their empirical links through six case studies of ES development projects. The data consisted of 64 semi-structured interviews, 10 weeks of observational data and 166 supporting documents describing the projects. Findings: The findings provide empirical evidence for four distinct uncertainty types (environmental, organisational, technical and relational uncertainty) and the organisational capabilities needed for addressing them. The authors identified unique dominant capabilities for each uncertainty type (commercialisation for environmental uncertainty, coordination for organisational and technical uncertainty, and relational capabilities for relational uncertainty), which were complemented with supporting capabilities, including project management and integration. Originality/value: This study contributes to the service operations literature by merging previously separate research streams on uncertainty and organisational capabilities in ESs and servitization. Through this merge, this study offers a more coherent understanding by extending previously sporadic insights into specific links between individual uncertainty types and individual capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the alliance programme of the Nordic Five Tech universities and Danmarks Tekniske Universitet.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Engineering service
  • Engineering-service development
  • Organisational capabilities
  • Servitization
  • Uncertainty management

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