Exploring service adaptation in a business-to-business context

Zhu, Xia and Zolkiewski, Judy (2016). Exploring service adaptation in a business-to-business context. Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 26(3) pp. 315–337.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTP-02-2014-0039



– The purpose of this paper is to investigate service adaptation in a business-to-business context and explores the characteristics of service adaptation and how it takes place in business-to-business markets.


– Two case studies were employed to obtain both suppliers’ and customers’ perceptions of service adaptation in a business-to-business context.


– The findings captured both suppliers’ and customers’ adaptation in a business-to-business service context. It revealed customers’ active adaptation in assisting suppliers in the business-to-business service process. Suppliers’ willingness to make adaptation appears to have an impact on their relationships with customers. Business-to-business service adaptation is a dynamic and interactive process.

Research limitations/implications

– The findings shed light for practitioners not to neglect customers’ active participation, but to understand customers’ role in making adaptation with suppliers in the service process to enhance their service experience and business-to-business relationships. The research is exploratory and the findings of these two case studies may be influenced by the manufacturing sector in which the case study firms are based.


– This paper illustrates that the interactive nature of service adaptation is particularly pertinent in a business-to-business context and that the phenomena needs much more careful attention as it provides a potential area for marketing managers to achieve service differentiation.

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