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Different actors’ roles in small companies service innovation

Patrik Gottfridsson (Service Research Center, and SAMOT-research group, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of the study is to create an initial understanding of how various internal and external actors contribute to the development of new services based on the research question considering “which different actor takes part in small companies’ service development processes in order giving access to the resources needed and what roles do they play?”


Due to the lack of previous studies within the area, the focus in this study has been to use a qualitative method to reach a deeper insight about how small companies’ service development could be described, as seen from an actor’s perspective.


Based on the empirical analysis, the study identifies seven main categories of actors who were involved in the service-development process that contributes with different types of resources and their role varies during the development process. The actors and their roles are presented in a model giving initial understanding how various internal and external actors contribute to the development of new services.

Research limitations/implications

Using a qualitative approach, the research results may lack generalizability. Instead, the findings should be seen as an initial starting point for further studies.

Practical implications

The paper’s highlight a number of actor roles that need to be handled to create possibilities for small companies’ service development.


The paper fills a research gap in the service innovation research. Traditionally, this research has been focused on larger companies, with a focus on what happens inside the companies.



An earlier draft of this article has been presented at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, and has been published in the proceedings with the title; “How small companies develop services – An ARA-approach to service development” (in reference list; Gottfridsson, 2011).


Gottfridsson, P. (2014), "Different actors’ roles in small companies service innovation", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 7, pp. 547-557.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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