Service Ecosystems: a Relevant Systems Perspective for Marketing

Robert F. Lusch, University of Arizona
Melissa Akaka, University of Denver

Formal systems analysis emerged in the early 20th century, primarily in biology and ecology (Capra 1997). Somewhat latter, in the mid 20th century, systems thinking and analysis in business (primarily operations research) including management and marketing emerged (Churchman 1963, Alderson 1965). There was considerable optimism for the systems approach and the cover of Churchman’s book by the same title (1968) stated: “A leading systems analyst presents the first nontechnical study of the space-age science that is revolutionizing management and planning in government, business, industry and human problems.” Business, as well as marketing, had been heavily influenced by the neoclassical micro-economic paradigm with its Newtonian like properties (Vargo and Morgan 2005) and the narrow focus of scientific management or worker productivity (Taylor and others). To many it was the time where the boundaries of not only space could be explored but also the broader boundaries of markets and marketing. This conceptual and theory building manuscript shows how the adoption of a service ecosystems perspective can enlighten marketing practice as well as public policy.

This is a working paper.