The Evolution and Prospects of Service-Dominant Logic Research

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Ralf Wilden of Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Australia. Dr. Wilden recently published an article in the Journal of Service Research entitled “The Evolution and Prospects of Service-dominant Logic Research: An Investigation of Past, Present, and Future Research,” which is currently free to read for a limited time.” Below, Dr. Wilden reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

02JSR13_Covers.inddService innovation is a driving force of economic growth in developed economies. Large corporations, such as BMW and IBM, increasingly define their business as service centric. For example, the BMW Group has moved away from defining their value proposition being focused on cars and motorcycles to positioning themselves as a mobility provider, thus moving away from a product-centered to service-centered narrative. The ‘servitization’ of traditional business models converges with a growing academic discourse around the emergence and evolution of the so-called ‘service-dominant logic’. Ongoing studies in this area explore the value of service in dynamic exchange systems and how managers are responding to or guided by ideas that 1) service forms the basis of all economic exchange, 2) value is always co-created between relevant actors, and 3) so-called operant resources are central to value co-creation.

In a recent study in the Journal of Service Research, an international team of researchers studied existing research to uncover core concepts and thematic shifts in the development of new knowledge in this field. More specifically, they studied how service-dominant logic advances the understanding of how value is created and service is innovated in dynamic service ecosystems. Based on a citation analyses and text mining of more than 300 key articles, the authors identify how service-dominant logic bridges traditional service research (e.g., regarding satisfaction, quality and customer experiences) with strategic and systems views. However, looking at the evolution of service-dominant logic research over time, it appears focus on strategic research has waned. Thus, the authors argue future studies should draw on several specific research areas to develop frameworks to aid managers in strategically thinking about service design and innovation.

The results from this study verify service-dominant logic is highly influential in areas such as customer engagement and value cocreation. An underlying shift towards social and systemic perspectives is also evident. However, many valuable insights emerging from the wealth of relevant studies have not yet impacted research regarding managerial decision-making and strategy development on a large scale. Furthermore, the authors identify the need to develop a stronger understanding of the way service-dominant logic can be used to inform how managerial actions and social and cultural practices influence and are influenced by a wider service ecosystem. For example, Ralf Wilden says “the way organizations engage in innovation-related activities has changed from a firm-centric model to a model that stresses the importance of knowledge in-flows and out-flows across organizational boundaries.” He adds, “despite the commonly accepted importance of services in value creation activities our knowledge about the role of open innovation in service ecosystems is limited.” The authors further stress that service thinking has benefited from interdisciplinary research in the past. Moving forward, combining service-dominant research with organizational strategy insights in the area of open innovation, dynamic capabilities and microfoundations, together with social, cultural and systems theories, can lead to developing new knowledge regarding service and drive continual improvement in service design and innovation.

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