How Does Innovation Emerge in a Service Ecosystem?

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jennifer D. Chandler of California State University, Fullerton, Ilias Danatzis of Freie Universita¨t Berlin, Carolin Wernicke of CRM Solutions GmbH, Melissa Archpru Akaka of the University of Denver, and David Reynolds of the University of Warwick. They recently published an article in Journal of Service Research entitled “How Does Innovation Emerge in a Service Ecosystem?,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, They reflect on the motivation and impact of this research:]

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

We wanted to study how a divisive or hostile idea could possibly evolve into an innovation. The timing was good to investigate online privacy and personal data issues because the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal had just occurred. We were intrigued by the struggles of the developers and engineers as they went about their everyday tasks; we saw how they negotiated with one another regarding their personal opinions regarding privatization of the internet. We knew that managers in many other companies and industries struggled with these same issues in the massive move toward online cloud computing and service innovation.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

This research is innovative because the topics of online privacy and data monetization are controversial, intense, and timely. Also, the theoretical idea that innovation is a nonlinear systemic process that can sometimes breakdown is thought-provoking. We are trying to emphasize that, no matter the outcome, innovation is about stimulating discussion and creating feedback loops so that the next time a good idea comes around, it can prosper. To explain this, we bring in the concepts of plasticity and institutional reconciliation to explain why ideas do not always emerge as innovations. Furthermore, we discuss that some ideas may not flourish simply because of timing and/or the contexts in which they are originated. Our findings suggest that innovators shouldn’t spend all their time on product development or in labs; rather, innovators should be out there cultivating their service ecosystems and nurturing shared norms and meanings.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

We would like to share that this manuscript is based on 4 years of data collection and that the authors were strewn across 3 different countries. Collaboratively, we went back and forth between the data analysis and theoretical development many, many times before we were satisfied. The attention to detail required to generate the theoretical framework stemmed from tenacity and persistence. At times, some of us on the team wanted to give up while others wanted to continue pushing forward to an “A” level journal. It was truly a team effort.

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