Guest editorial

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 12 August 2014



Gustafsson, P.B.E.a.P.A. (2014), "Guest editorial", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 25 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Service Management, Volume 25, Issue 4

The International Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management (QUIS)

QUIS is considered to be one of the world's leading biannual conferences on service research. The first QUIS took place in Sweden 1988 and gathers thought-leaders from the global business and academic communities for an open exchange of insight and experiences. The objective of QUIS is to contribute to the continuing improvement of service excellence in all economic sectors around the world. Another objective is to share and advance the state of the art in theory and practice through presentation and discussion of scholarly research and successful business strategies. Finally, QUIS provides a forum for intensive global dialogue between researchers and executives and offers guidance for future academic study.

The 13th QUIS symposium hosted contributions from 35 countries and took place in Karlstad, Sweden on June 10-13, 2013. The contributions were from many different disciplines including marketing, human resources, strategy, operations management, psychology, computer science and working-life science. CTF, Service Research Center ( at Karlstad University was the host for the event. CTF is one of the leading research centers in service research, with more than 60 researchers and doctoral students. It was established in 1986 and it is a multi-disciplinary research group with close ties to industry. The focal areas for CTF's research are: service organizations and employment relations, service innovation, and customer experiences. QUIS13 was co-hosted by: Center for Services Leadership, W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, USA, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, UK, and Center for Hospitality Research, School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University, USA.

Leading, managing and organizing for service excellence is a never-ending quest by organizations seeking to achieve outstanding performance in their fields. Benchmarking one's own approaches against other organizations' best practices and gaining insights from their experiences are powerful means for enhancing results. Papers presented at QUIS13 gave a comprehensive overview of scholarly and managerial advances in service excellence and management with contributions from around the world. During the event, well-known scholars and business executives shared their views, research and experiences gained in using innovation and leadership in the pursuit of service excellence. A wide range of themes were covered at QUIS13 such as service innovation and design, self-service technologies, service culture and leadership, complaint management and service recovery, service infusion in manufacturing, service logic, human resource management, customer experience, service operations management, customer management, service science, transformative service and service quality put into action.

It is natural that new topics in research first appear at conferences and then reach journals. Consequently, we can do some trend-spotting from the submissions to QUIS13. The first observation is that there are some contexts that really are becoming popular; health care and manufacturing were really well represented among the submissions. The interest in manufacturing may not be too surprising given that the leading journals in service research are asking for more B2B studies. The conference was also held in Europe and European researchers have traditionally had a greater focus on manufacturing. Finally, we do see that many small and large manufacturing companies rely more and more on the service part of their business and want to know more on how to do that.

There is also a general increase in interest in health care from the rest of society and it is natural for a research area that has close connection to the surrounding society to pick up on that. The growing interest in health care may be driven by a number of challenges such as the introduction of many new technologies linked to patient orientation, self-service technologies and information management. Other reasons might be the need for improved productivity and quality as well as the challenges to manage resources in smarter ways to handle the increasing cost for health care in most developed countries. Co-creation as a phenomenon was well represented at QUIS and health care is an excellent context to study co-creation, which may explain some of the interest in the topic.

Another observation is that there were more submissions that applied experiments in their research. There seems to be a general trend in empirical research to be more interested in consumer behavior type research and service is an appropriate context to do so. We may ask ourselves where this interest originates. One positive interpretation could be that service research may be returning to its roots with a new interest in people, behaviors and interactions. We may see a revival of more traditional concepts in future service research.

We would also like to draw attention to research topics that are very popular or seem to be growing. We have already mentioned co-creation; this is an area that still generates a lot of interest. Service dominant logic (SDL) is also popular, as has been the case during the last decade. It is quite common to connect co-creation with SDL and service systems, which to some degree drive these two areas. Many scholars focussed on issues related to resource integration, value creation for the involved actors and customer experiences in the context of service systems and practices.

Concerning research areas that seem to be growing in popularity, it is hard not to mention service innovation that seems to have replaced new service development as a concept. In relation to service innovation, we also find a growing interest in service design. Finally, we need to mention transformative service research as a growing research area. The underlying question in transformative research is how service research can contribute to the well-being of individuals, organizations and societies? One reflection is that service as an academic discipline seems to be moving more toward research that matters. We ask ourselves, what can be better than contributing to a better life for people and smarter value-creation for organizations and societies, including service from the bottom of the economic pyramid?

Based on papers presented at QUIS13, special issues in three journals are published: Journal of Service Management, Cornell Quarterly, and Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship. From an array of more than 100 presentations, we are pleased to present some of the most thought-provoking papers. We are convinced that you will find the papers stimulating and useful. The papers were selected based on suggestions from ten well-known scholars that scouted articles during the conference and they have been refined in a series of reviews. The papers that were selected and elaborated to be more suitable to be published in the Journal of Service Management were:

1. Mirror, mirror on the wall - how customers perceive their contribution to service provision, authored by Sabine Fliess, Stefan Dyck, and Mailin Schmelter. The paper aims to enhance our understanding of customer views of their contribution to service provision, and it pursues the research question of what customers perceive as their contribution to service provision.

2. Understanding value co-creation in complex services with many actors, authored by Nelson Pinho, Gabriela Beirao, Lia Patricio and Raymond P. Fisk. This paper explores the concept of value co-creation in complex service systems with many actors.

3. Signaling eco-certification: implications for service coproduction and resource efficiency, authored by Jie J. Zhang, Nitin Joglekar, and Rohit Verma. The paper demonstrates the signaling effect of eco-certification. It also shows that the eco-certification's signaling needs to be integrated into operations and marketing components to succeed.

4. Preferential treatment in the service encounter, authored by Magnus Söderlund, Veronica Liljander, Johanna Gummerus, Pia Hellman, Michaela Lipkin, Eeva-Liisa Oikarinen, Marianne Sepp, and Karina T. Liljedal. This research examines what happens when the customer receives something extra from a service worker compared to when the customer does not receive the extra.

5. Exploring the impact of customer feedback on the well-being of service entities: a TSR perspective, authored by Linda Nasr, Jamie Burton, Thorsten Gruber, and Jan Kitshoff. This research is done from a transformative service research perspective. It focuses on the impact of customer feedback on the well-being of service managers and workers.

6. Turning customer satisfaction measurements into action, authored by Line Lervik Olsen, Lars Witell, and Anders Gustafsson. This paper aims at understanding the nature of customer orientation and it develops phases of customer orientation and studies the impact of these on customer satisfaction.

The next symposium, QUIS14, will take place on June 18-21, 2015 in Shanghai and is co-hosted by China Europe International Business School and School of Management, Fudan University Shanghai, China. We welcome you to attend QUIS14 next year and to submit abstracts and suggestions on sessions that focus on cutting edge service research.

Professor Bo Edvardsson and Professor Anders Gustafsson

CTF Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden