Discourses of ‘servitization’. Strategy as discourse and practice perspective on shipping

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
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Finnish Business Communication
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ABSTRACT The aims of research: The aim of my research is to examine the strategy dialogue and discursive practices through which four global shipping manufacturing firms enable an industry-wide structural shift of ‘servitization’, reproduce the new service-oriented, interactive corporate strategy in their external communication and deepen their relationship with customers over time. Adopting a discursive perspective on strategy enables one to analyze how this strategic transformation process occurs, reproduces and what the nature of the ‘servitization’ shift is like in the shipping industry. Research data and methodology: The research focuses on analyzing the strategy in a specific context of ‘servitization’, and hence the research data covers all public, external strategic communication material between 2001-2012 that reflects service transition strategies and describes the major structural shift from an introvert product-centered strategy towards a more extrovert service-oriented business model. Particular attention is paid to quarterly, annual reports and news releases. The research is a qualitative discourse analysis, and methodologically particularly interesting perspectives are Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) in terms of socio-cultural change and change in discourse, and a detailed account of discourse community, its creation and contextual transformation over time. Findings: The research found out that the four manufacturers reproduce and practice ‘servitization’ of the corporate strategy through three dominating macrodiscourses, which may be called as freedom fighter for the global balance and harmony, global ambassador of wealth and Mother Nature. The macrodiscourses preface a variety of discursive practices, genres and rhetorical acts forwarding the strategic shift to materialize in each four stages of ‘servitization’; introduction, growth, mature and decline. In each stage, different discourses were found to create a stage-specific discourse community. During the ‘servitization’ shift the dominating discourse changed from promotional, marketing-oriented to differentiating, and from a discourse of social convergence to emotional discourse over time. Also, all four manufacturers adopted a very similar, ‘mimetic’ way of discursive behavior, which was identified to harmonize their structures and processes to produce ‘servitization’ in their daily practices.
‘servitization', strategy as discourse and practice, interdiscursivity, discourse community, shipping
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