ASU Center for Organization Research and Design

Product Services for a Resource-efficient and Circular Economy - A Review

by Arnold Tukker

Jan 1, 2013

Since the 1990s, Product Service Systems (PSS) have been heralded as one of the most effective instruments for moving society towards a resource-efficient, circular economy and creating a much-needed 'resource revolution'. This paper reviews the literature on PSS in the last decade and compares the findings with those from an earlier review in this journal in 2006. Close to 300 relevant papers were identified, over 140 of which have been referenced in this review. Research in the field of PSS has become more prolific, with the output of refereed papers quadrupling since 2000, while on average scientific output has only doubled. PSS has also become embedded in a wider range of science fields (such as manufacturing, ICT, business management, and design) and geographical regions (Asia now produces more papers than Europe). The literature of the last seven years has refined insights with regard to the design of PSS, as well as their business and environmental benefits, and confirmed the definitions and PSS concepts already available in 2006. A major contribution of the recent literature is research into how firms have implemented PSS in their organization and what the key success factors and issues that require special attention are (such as a focus on product availability for clients; an emphasis on diversity in terms of services provided rather than the range of products; and the need for staff to possess both knowledge of the product and relationship management skills). The reasons why PSS have nonetheless still not been widely implemented, particularly in the B2C context, seem to have already been explained fairly well in the literature available in 2006. For consumers, having control over things, artifacts, and life itself is one of the most valued attributes. PSS are often less accessible, or have less intangible value, than the competing product, in part because PSS usually do not allow consumers as much behavioral freedom or even leave them with the impression that the PSS provider could prescribe how they should behave.

Product Services for a Resource-efficient and Circular Economy - A Review