Standardisation and particularisation in services: Evidence from Germany

Services have been widely neglected by economists and analysts of innovation, who have instead focused on manufacturing. One of the widely supposed features of services outputs is that they are often highly tailored to their clients. In practice, however, services are sometimes mass-produced and sometimes customised versions of standard products, but can also be produced on a one-off basis. This paper examines the pattern of service activities using German evidence with respect to the structure of service firms' income from "standardised", "partially customised" and "bespoke" services. The analysis then relates the revealed patterns of "standardisation-particularisation" in the output of the firms to their size and broad sector of activity, and considers the relationship with innovation. Our analysis lends support to previous theoretical studies which provide useful taxonomies of service activities and innovation processes in services. However, our analysis also confirms that services are tremendously diverse both between and within sectors. Mapping and understanding this diversity is a major challenge for future research on service firms and their (innovative) activities.


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Innovation, Particularisation, Services, Standardisation

Additional information:

AuthorsTether, Bruce S. (ESRC Centre for Research on Innovation & Competition (CRIC), University of Manchester, UK), Hipp, Christiane (Mannesmann Pilotentwicklung, Munich / Dept of Technology and Innovation Management, Technical University of Hamburg, Germany), Miles, Ian (CRIC and PREST, University of Manchester, UK)
Publisher:Elsevier Science B.V.
Keywords:Innovation, Particularisation, Services, Standardisation
Last update:2001