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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Jennifer Chandler on Service Systems

[Editor’s Note: A special thanks to Jennifer Chandler, who took the time to give us some insight on the article “Service Systems: A Broadened Framework and Research Agenda on Value Propositions, Engagement, and Service Experience.” The article, recently published in Journal of Service Research, was co-authored with Robert F. Lusch.]

02JSR13_Covers.inddWe believe this study contributes to a deeper understanding of markets that is different than that which is guided by the standard neoclassical economics view of markets. Viewing service from a systems perspective as we do, this study outlines how, market actors – including firms, customers, suppliers – cannot sustain service experiences by themselves. This approach is important because, in many ways, all actors continually influence one another in today’s dynamic and complex market environment largely due to the ascendance of information technology and globalization.

I was inspired to research the topics of service systems, value propositions, and engagement because my work experience in service industries taught me that the exchanges between buyers and sellers in a market is very complex. Having worked in media and tourism, it was evident to me that decisions to exchange were not made based solely on economic factors. We collaborated, we traded, and we bartered. And, everyone involved in a deal knew that there was much more to be gained if we could move forward together, rather than if we set out to make one-time deals. All through my doctoral studies, I became increasingly intrigued with the idea of systems and their complex and adaptive nature. I decided I would devote considerable professional effort to a research program that would develop both conceptual models and frameworks and empirical research to better understand the complexities of exchange systems.

[You can read “Service Systems: A Broadened Framework and Research Agenda on Value Propositions, Engagement, and Service Experience” from Journal of Service Research by clicking here.]

8-17-11_newfaculty_mugs_kt  (Campus)  Portraits of the new faculty. PHOTO/ KAREN TAPIANew faculty member Jennifer ChandlerJennifer D. Chandler is an assistant professor of management at California State University, Fullerton, in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics. She holds a BA from UCLA, an MBA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a PhD from the University of California, Irvine. Her research focuses on strategic service operations by integrating resource-based view of the firm with social networks analysis. She studies service experiences as well as the collaborative and knowledge management processes that coincide with service. Using multimethod research, she combines predictive modeling and qualitative data analysis. Before entering academia, she had a successful media sales, tourism, and international event management career. After working with media giants Clear Channel Communications and Raycom Media, she began her own agency working across the entertainment, tourism, nonprofit, retailing, and manufacturing sectors.

luschRobert F. Lusch is a professor of marketing, James and Pamela Muzzy Chair in entrepreneurship and innovation, and executive director of the McGuire Center of Entrepreneurship in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. He is a thought leader in retailing and service marketing and is a major contributor to the growing literature on service-dominant Logic. A past chairperson of the American Marketing Association and editor of the Journal of Marketing, he is a frequent industry speaker on service innovation and service ecosystems. He has received the AMA Distinguished Marketing educator award, the Outstanding Marketing Faculty award from the Academy of Marketing Science, and on two occasions received the AMA/Journal of Marketing Harold Maynard Award for contributions to marketing theory. He has published 18 books and the most recent Service-Dominant Logic: Premises, Perspectives and Possibilities by Cambridge University Press (2014) is coauthored with Stephen L. Vargo.