To read this content please select one of the options below:

Twenty-seven years of service research: a literature review and research agenda

Olivier Furrer (Department of Management, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)
Jie Yu Kerguignas (Department of Management, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)
Cécile Delcourt (Department of Marketing HEC Liège, Management School, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium)
Dwayne D. Gremler (Department of Marketing, College of Business, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 1 May 2020

Issue publication date: 19 June 2020




The growing service sector has experienced several revolutions that have transformed the way services are created and delivered. In parallel, services increasingly pique the interest of scholars, resulting in an expanding body of knowledge. Accordingly, it is time to reflect on extant service research, assess its boundaries, and think about its future. This paper aims to consider three research questions: How has service research evolved over the past 27 years? Which articles have most influenced the evolution of service research in the past 27 years? What are the most promising research themes for the future?


To answer these questions, the authors analyze the contents of 3,177 service research articles published in ten major academic journals between 1993 and August 2019. Multiple correspondence analysis reveals the evolution of key service research themes and their underlying relationships.


The research themes are organized in a growth–share matrix with four quadrants (stars, question marks, cash cows and pets) and also combine into four research clusters (human resource management, organizational behavior and strategy, technology, and operations and customer behavior and marketing). Together with a specified list of influential articles that have shaped the evolution of service research, these insights suggest an agenda for research.


Acknowledging the vast growth of service research, this study presents an up-to-date picture of the discipline and an agenda to stimulate continued research.



The authors would like to thank Catrina Bur and Thibaud Salamin for their help with the preparation and coding of the data. They also would like to thank the two associate editors of this special issue, J. Joseph Cronin, Jr. and Duane Nagel, and the two anonymous reviewers for their support and insightful comments.


Furrer, O., Yu Kerguignas, J., Delcourt, C. and Gremler, D.D. (2020), "Twenty-seven years of service research: a literature review and research agenda", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 299-316.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles