Service Research Priorities in a Rapidly Changing Context

Amy L. Ostrom, Arizona State University
A. Parasuraman, University of Miami
David E. Bowen, Thunderbird, Arizona State University
Lia Patrício, University of Porto, Portugal
Christopher A. Voss, University of Warwick, UK

The context in which service is delivered and experienced has, in many respects, fundamentally changed. For instance, advances in technology, especially information technology, are leading to a proliferation of revolutionary services and changing how customers serve themselves before, during, and after purchase. To understand this changing landscape, the authors engaged in an international and interdisciplinary research effort to identify research priorities that have the potential to advance the service field and benefit customers, organizations, and society. The priority-setting process was informed by roundtable discussions with researchers affiliated with service research centers and networks located around the world and resulted in the following 12 service research priorities:

  • stimulating service innovation,
  • facilitating servitization, service infusion, and solutions,
  • understanding organization and employee issues relevant to successful service,
  • developing service networks and systems,
  • leveraging service design,
  • using big data to advance service,
  • understanding value creation,
  • enhancing the service experience,
  • improving well-being through transformative service,
  • measuring and optimizing service performance and impact,
  • understanding service in a global context, and
  • leveraging technology to advance service.

For each priority, the authors identified important specific service topics and related research questions. Then, through an online survey, service researchers assessed the subtopics’ perceived importance and the service field’s extant knowledge about them. Although all the priorities and related topics were deemed important, the results show that topics related to transformative service and measuring and optimizing service performance are particularly important for advancing the service field along with big data, which had the largest gap between importance and current knowledge of the field. The authors present key challenges that should be addressed to move the field forward and conclude with a discussion of the need for additional interdisciplinary research.

Ostrom, A. L., Parasuraman, A., Bowen, D. E., Patricio, L., & Voss, C. A. (2015). Service Research Priorities in a Rapidly Changing Context. Journal of Service Research, 18(2), 127-159.