Handbook of Service Science

Marianna Sigala (Department of Business Administration, University of the Aegean, Chios, Chios Island, Greece)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 2 August 2011




Sigala, M. (2011), "Handbook of Service Science", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 386-387. https://doi.org/10.1108/07363761111150044



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Service science, also known as service science, management, engineering, and design (SSMED), is an interdisciplinary approach to study, improve, create, and innovate in service. SSMED affects (and it is affected by) the tenets and practices of many disciplines, including: operations management, services marketing, psychology and consumer behaviour, engineering, services marketing, operational research. Although a relatively new approach, many researchers, academics, and professionals have started writing, teaching, and implementing the major tenets of SSMED within their discipline and field. As the service science research centre of IBM claims, nowadays innovation and national economies require more T‐Shaped professionals, i.e. professionals with deep problem solving skills in one discipline and one system/context, as well as with good communication skills across many disciplines and many systems. This is because, only if a professional approaches a service system in a more holistic approach and he is able to understand and communicate with many other disciplines, he can more effectively innovate and contribute something new and substantial useful. In some way, SSMED, is an approach to enabling marketing professionals to communicate and collaborate with professionals from other fields in order to innovate and contribute something new to the field of service research.

This edited book aimed to provide a holistic review of how SSMED has changed and is influencing the major areas and disciplines related to service research. To that end, the book editors (Paul Maglio, Cheryl Kieliszewski, and James Spohrer) have identified 31 important and seminal papers and books on services and then invited their authors to write a chapter to update and even go beyond their original work in order to reflect the impacts of SSMED.

This book is a very synergistic and valuable compilation of 31 chapters written by 70 international and widely recognisable researchers and academics coming from many and varied service science‐ related disciplines. All chapters are well written and provide a valuable contribution to service research as they do not only conduct a great literature review of their subject area with a very extensive reference list, but they also debate the evolution of the field in the light of SSMED. In this vein, it can be claimed that this handbook can be considered as an ultimate handbook of service research that one should read and have. Due to the great number of book chapters as well as their numerous writers and the limited word space available for writing this book review, the following brief analysis of the book does not name any chapter author in order to avoid any unfair representation of any chapter author.

The book chapters are organised and structured in three well and logically sequenced parts. The first part, titled the “Context,” introduces many of the basic concepts about service that recur throughout the book. The “Context” is organised in two sub‐sections: Origins and Theory. Origins revisits and updates the following seminar and pioneering work in service research: service operations; customer contact theory; service profit chain; people co‐creation; customer equity and customer lifetime value; service duality, and manuservice economy (i.e. the economy whereby many manufacturing firms have been transformed into service firms, e.g. by providing more after sales and maintenance support services, while many service firms are becoming like manufacturing firms whose outputs are mass produced service products rather than customised service experiences). The sub‐section Theory lays out the following different but related approaches to weaving a comprehensive approach or theory of service: the unified service theory; the service dominant logic; and service systems.

The second book part is titled “Research and practice”, as it provides empirical data and practical experience through the study and implementation of real‐world services. This part is divided into four sub‐sections:

  1. 1.


  2. 2.


  3. 3.

    delivery; and

  4. 4.


Design analyses and discusses the following issues related to service creation and development: the service quality gap model (specifically in the context of modern technologies); service design regarding front‐ and back‐stage development; business architecture; service work practices, and service system design. The sub‐section Operations reviews a variety of work related to management and engineering of service systems including the following: service science and operations management; human aspects and their impacts on service performance and quality; service science and process; innovation and value management in the telecommunication sector; and service engineering. The sub‐section Delivery takes a perspective of implementation by analysing the following concepts: the industrialisation of information services; optimisation methods of workforce management for enhancing service delivery; service value management through network flows; and front‐ and back‐stage process analysis for service delivery. The last sub‐section on Innovation pulls together a variety of perspectives on the nature and processes of new service development and service improvement. It starts with a chapter that provides a broad review of service innovation studies, and then puts them in a modern service context. The sub‐section continues by debating and showing the interrelations between the concepts of services, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development. The following chapters analyse the concepts of customer co‐development, value co‐creation, and the legal landscape that affects intellectual property rights and contracts and customer involvement in innovation, specifically in the context of digital services.

The last and third part of the book is titled “Future” as it focuses on the problems and prospects for building a truly interdisciplinary service science. Issues that are debated are: the context of service (its history as a field and its prospects); the various strands (disciplines) of service research and how these can come together; the roadmaps of service innovation; and the skills and education for service science.

Overall, this is an easy‐to‐read book that provides a rich set of both strong theoretical background and industry evidence of the relatively new and dynamically emerging approach of SSMED for studying service. The book brings together a great variety of disciplines representing the SSMED approach and it nicely reviews and debates the evolution of many concepts related to service research. Overall, the book provides both a historical review as well as a great update of numerous seminal service concepts and issues. Additionally, it offers several ideas and challenges for future debates and research. In this vein, the book is ideal to both new and mature researchers in the field of service research. The book constitutes a useful reading for researchers, academics, and professionals involved and interested in service research.

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