On the verge of disruption: Rethinking position and role – The case of additive manufacturing

PublikationArtikel (med peer review)
3D printing, Additive manufacturing, Christina Öberg, Disruption, Position, Role, Strategy, Tawfiq Shams


Purpose: With the overarching idea of disruptive technology and its effects on business, this paper focuses on how companies strategically consider meeting the challenge of a disruptive technology such as additive manufacturing. The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss changes in positions and roles related to the implementation of a disruptive technology.

Design/methodology/approach: Additive manufacturing could be expected to have different consequences for parties based on their current supply chain positions. The paper therefore investigates companies’ strategies related to various supply chain positions and does so by departing from a position and role point of view. Three business cases related to metal 3D printing – illustrating sub-suppliers, manufacturers and logistics firms – describe as many strategies. Data for the cases were collected through meetings, interviews, seminars and secondary data focusing on both current business activities related to additive manufacturing and scenarios for the future.

Findings: The companies attempted to defend their current positions, leading to new roles for them. This disconnects the change of roles from that of positions. The changed roles indicate that all parties, regardless of supply chain positions, would move into competing producing roles, thereby indicating how a disruptive technology may disrupt network structures based on companies’ attempts to defend their positions.

Originality/value: The paper contributes to previous research by reporting a disconnect between positions and roles among firms when disruption takes place. The paper further denotes how the investigated firms largely disregarded network consequences at the disruptive stage, caused by the introduction of additive manufacturing. The paper also contributes to research on additive manufacturing by including a business dimension and linking this to positions and roles.

Öberg, C. & Shams, T. (2019). On the verge of disruption: Rethinking position and role – The case of additive manufacturing. Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, 34(5), 1093-1105. DOI: 10.1108/JBIM-10-2018-0293

Liknande innehåll

Open marketing – Conceptualizing external parties’ strategic marketing activities
Artikel (med peer review)Publikation
Öberg, C.



Open marketing as conceptualized in this paper refers to how external parties take part in strategic, integrative marketing activities. To distinguish this more recent trend in marketing from traditional meanings of marketing, the paper provides a typology on roles and role keepers in marketing. Four types of roles and role keepers are outlined: marketing as 1) solely being performed by actors in the supplier company communicating offerings, 2) an activity shared among functions of the supplier company, 3) external parties communicating offerings, and 4) external parties contributing to strategic marketing. Using the concept of ‘roles’ in marketing helps to structure activities and actors – or roles and role keepers – and provides a basis for understanding that marketing results from what is done, not merely from who performs it. The paper underlines how new ways of conducting business also have implications for a company’s marketing beyond its borders.

Disruptive and paradoxical roles in the sharing economies
Artikel (med peer review)Publikation
Öberg, C.



The sharing economy could be said to disrupt who does what in exchanges. This paper categorises the roles played by users, providers, and platforms in different interpretations of the sharing economy. It asks: What different roles do the users, providers, and platforms play in the sharing economy? And: How do the roles differ in various interpretations of the sharing economy? The paper classifies the different interpretations based on their market/non-market logic and concludes that roles are more extensive for users and providers in non-market logic interpretations, while market logic suggests that the platform acts more roles. The user is, despite the peer-to-peer connotation of the sharing economy, often quite passive. Contributions are made to the emerging literature on the sharing economy through highlighting its many different interpretations, where roles help to systematise these. The paper furthermore contributes to the literature on roles through highlighting them as transitory and expanding beyond expectations related to digitalisation. Practically, the systematisation of roles helps to navigate among various business model designs and makes informed decisions when launching platforms in the sharing economy. Additionally, the focus on roles raises important questions on risk sharing, resource provisions, and the creation of value for each participating party.

Inside the incubator – business relationship creations among incubated firms
Artikel (med peer review)Publikation
Öberg, C., Klinton, M. & Stockhult, H.



Incubators, as providers of advice and resources, suggest fostering the development of early-idea firms. Literature and practice seem to suggest an ever-increasing amount of incubator support. The creation of business relationships is at the heart of any business development, and this paper addresses whether a laissez-faire incubator fosters the creation of business relationships. The purpose of this paper is to explore the creation of business relationships among incubated firms during and after their time in the incubator along with the roles that these relationships play for the incubated firms.

Empirically, the paper is based on retrospective interviews with representatives of all incubated firms in a university incubator. A total of fifteen interviews were conducted with representatives of the incubated firms, the incubator and its owners, complemented by secondary data sources.

The paper points out three antecedents for business relationship creation: the lack of experience and connections; convenience; and trust based on the interactions with others in the incubator. These antecedents are connected to the roles of transforming businesses and of adaptation in the dyadic relationships. The laissez-faire incubator helped through the learning-by-doing among the incubated firms, which made them focus on business relationship creation from early on.

Most incubator research portrays the unilateral transfer of knowledge from the incubator to the incubated firm, with the latter being a service taker rather than a co-producer. The paper adds knowledge about business relationships among firms in incubators and the roles that these business relationships could play for the firms. The focus on an incubator providing limited support is of high practical relevance, given the trend of incubators facilitating more and more services.

Visa fler

Ratio är ett fristående forskningsinstitut som forskar om hur företagandets villkor kan utvecklas och förbättras.

Sveavägen 59 4trp

Box 3203

103 64 Stockholm

Postgiro: 382621-1


Bankgiro: 512-6578