Assessing the use of Product-Service Systems as a strategy to foster sustainability in an emerging context
Aguinaldo dos Santos, Claudio Pereira Sampaio, Jucelia Salete Giacomini da Silva, Jairo da Costa Junior
This paper presents the results of a research project which have investigated the effectiveness of the contribution of Product-Service Systems (PSS) towards sustainability from a business perspective in an emerging context. The focus of this study is on the implications on the achievement of a “distributed economy”. The authors have investigated the issue in three case studies, each representing one of the main typologies of PSS: result-oriented, product-oriented, and service-oriented. The companies that participated in these case studies were from three different business sectors: a packaging manufacturer for the automotive sector, an office space provider, and a major manufacturer of pipes and fittings. The results reported in this paper focus on the three initial phases of the data collection protocol developed in each case study: strategic analysis, exploration of opportunities, and development of the PSS concept. The data collection techniques included semi-structured interviews, system maps, Sustainability Design-Orienting Toolkit (SDO/MEPSS), direct observation, and photography and document analysis. The intracase study analysis was carried out through workshops with the partner companies, followed by cross-case study analysis, with the aim of identifying common patterns. The case studies show that PSS can contribute to expand the involvement of local stakeholders and to the achievement of a higher level of customization to local requirements. They also showed that it is not possible to state that a PSS can result in small, decentralized, and flexible production units. Also, although they expand the net of stakeholders, none of the case studies present an explicit intent to search for synergy with their counterparts in the same business sector, despite the benefit that such strategy could bring to scaling up the PSS concepts. Therefore, the authors conclude that, within a business perspective in an emerging context, there is no direct connection between PSS and the full extent of the “distributed economy” concept.