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Exploring front-line employee contributions to service innovation

Jenny Karlsson (Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden)
Per Skålén (Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 14 September 2015




This paper aims to study front-line employees’ contribution to service innovation, when they contribute and how they are involved in service innovation.


The paper draws on a multiple-case study on service innovation in four organizations with extensive front-line employee involvement. The main data collection methods are interviews and observations.


The paper suggests that front-line employees contribute customer knowledge, product knowledge and practice knowledge during five phases of the service innovation process – project formation, idea generation, service design, testing and implementation – and that front-line employee involvement ranges from active to passive.

Research limitations/implications

Statistical generalization of the results is needed.

Practical implications

The paper reveals that early and active front-line employee involvement in the service innovation process creates conditions for a positive contribution to service innovation.


The paper suggests that early and active knowledge contributions by front-line employees to the service innovation process are associated with the creation of attractive value propositions.



Karlsson, J. and Skålén, P. (2015), "Exploring front-line employee contributions to service innovation", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 49 No. 9/10, pp. 1346-1365.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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