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Vol 5 - Issue 1

Technology and Innovation


List of Articles

Product-service systems as transition enablers for industrial economies

This article introduces Technologie et Innovation’s special issue on product-service systems (PSS). It examines the origin of the term, presents its topicality through some bibliometric elements, and introduces the main current debates. Product-service systems illustrate the tertiarization of industrial economies, and emphasize the complementarity between goods and services. While the development of services by industry is a relatively old phenomenon, it is currently increasing for economic and environmental reasons. This new topicality can be observed in the significant increase in the number of articles published using this term since the early 2000s. Three main themes characterize the current debates: the environmental impacts of SPS (circular economy), the link between SPS and the functional economy, and the conditions for the production and dissemination of SPS. This special issue contributes to these debates.


Product-service systems as business models for the circular economy: potential and limitations

The circular economy (CE) defines a new paradigm of production and consumption that seeks to reduce resource consumption and to extend the useful life of products and services through various strategies and closed loops, by trying to avoid waste generation as much as possible or by using waste as a resource for new processes. As such, innovative business models, including product-service systems (PSS), are considered as a central element for the achievement of the CE. This article analyzes PSS business models’ contribution to the implementation of the circular economy. It is based on a critical review of the literature from the late 1980s up to the present day. In recent years, the potential benefits of PSS to improve eco-efficiency have been highlighted. However, the specific contribution of PSS to the CE remains to be explored. Although the literature tends to advocate for greater efficiency of results-oriented PSS, there are in reality only a few examples of this. By contrast, the CE opens up new opportunities for a combination of products and services. The key is not so much the transition along a product-service axis as it is the provision of support services for products and their components that prolong their life cycle. In our paper, we argue that the CE opens up new possibilities for services or combinations of products and services. The PSSs that we analyzed, which are focused on unique cases and their contribution to eco-efficiency, have limits. Therefore, we conclude that it is necessary to adopt a systemic and critical perspective in the analysis of PSS business models and in their promotion so that they can effectively serve the principles of the circular economy.


The functional economy as an innovative business model: the original concept at the proof of legitimacy systems

This article proposes a reinterpretation of Orio Giarini and Walter Stahel’s seminal work on the “new service society” [GIA 89] in the broader scientific context that saw the emergence of a plurality of concepts related to the “functional economy”. It analyzes the legitimate foundations of this use-based transactional mode within L. Boltanski and L. Thévenot’s framework on the “Economies of Worth” [BOL 91]. It shows that the co-authors of The Limits to Certainty conceptualized a specific form of exchange that does not fundamentally call into question the industrial-merchant principles of the economic system, but rather tends to bend its devices in order to improve its performance in economic, social and environmental terms. This analysis allows us to highlight the differences and similarities between the principles underlying their original conception and the principles that underlie the constructions developed in its continuum.


Product-service systems and functional service economy: innovation dynamics and territorial scales

This paper examines the economic models described by the different approaches of the Functional Service Economy (FSE) and analyzes the innovation dynamics that these models generate. The theoretical framework of innovation in terms of characteristics is mobilized in order to explain the nature and dynamics of innovation of these models, as well as the scales of analysis (micro, meso, macro) that retrace the relevant levels of application of these models. This article suggests that a large number of practical developments of FSEs exists, depending on the number of actors and the spatial scale in which these models are embedded. Some of these models do not provide a real change with the intensive material growth model. Others are becoming more complex and require coordination at a broader systemic level. The dynamics of innovation, essentially of a service-oriented nature, depend on the complexity of the economic model.


Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of car sharing systems users

The sharing economy enables the emergence of new Product-Service Systems, which are both environmentally friendly and economically attractive business models for all stakeholders involved. This article examines the motivations of users of car sharing platforms, investigating intrinsic and extrinsic drivers behind their attitude and behavior in adopting these systems. To do this, we have adapted a scale based on Self-Determination Theory in order to examine the intentional behavior of 158 car sharing service users. We found that both intrinsic motivation factors (environmental perspective and enjoyment) and one extrinsic factor (economic benefit) strongly contribute to creating a favorable attitude concerning the practice of car sharing. However, expectations surrounding reputation do not seem to influence users’ attitudes or behavioral intention. We discuss the managerial implications of these findings for innovation in this domain.


Structural coupling between product-service systems. Study of the construction aggregates supply in the Ile-de-France region

During an ANR (French National Research Agency) project called “AGREGA”, a contributory Web portal (ePLANETe.Blue) was developed. It supported actors involved in the supply chain of the construction of aggregates, which was needed in the Paris area. This was done in a process of collective compromises between strategies of the circular economy and issues of the supply chain in the Ile-de-France region. From a circular economy perspective, this supply chain can be considered as a product-oriented product-service system (PSS). From a more regional perspective regarding social, economic and ecological sustainability issues, the same supply chain could be considered as a use-oriented PSS. The “ePLANETe.Blue” Web portal was designed to help actors and stakeholders get involved in the co-production of an ad hoc evaluation methodology which could facilitate a structural coupling between those two types of PSSs.


Product-service systems: exploitation or exploration strategy?

This paper deals with the innovation processes that underlie the development of product-service systems (PSS) by industrial companies. We ask the question: is servitization a result of exploitative or explorative innovation, or a form of organizational ambidexterity? We assume that the underlying innovation process greatly depends on the type of PSS and servitization strategy. In particular, the greater the change in the business model, the more it is based on an exploration strategy. The contribution of this research is twofold. Firstly, it emphasizes the interest of the concepts of exploitation and exploration for the research on servitization. Secondly, it proposes and in part validates the hypothesis that the development of PSS-oriented products, uses or findings are based on different innovation processes.


Methodology for taking into account environmental and social impacts in the definition of research issues: application to smart composite structures

For several years now, we have seen a need to develop sustainable, responsible and environmentally
friendly policies. This has led to a legislative framework guiding the design of a product, service or system, particularly at
the company level. However, this framework is not well suited to studies conducted in the academic environment, leaving
the researcher alone to face his or her own responsibilities without tools to help develop his or her intellectual approach.
This article proposes a methodology, adapted to researchers in a particular field of activity, allowing them to question and
think about the social and environmental issues related to the subjects of their study. As an example, our approach is
applied to a study case: smart composite structures.