The 2013 Naples Forum on Service and its efforts to advance service theory and practice

Francesco Polese (Department of Management and Information Technology, University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)
Cristina Mele (Department of Economics, Management and Institutions, University of Naples "Federico II", Naples, Italy)
Evert Gummesson (Stockholm University, Stockhom, Sweden)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 9 March 2015



Polese, F., Mele, C. and Gummesson, E. (2015), "The 2013 Naples Forum on Service and its efforts to advance service theory and practice", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 25 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The 2013 Naples Forum on Service and its efforts to advance service theory and practice

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Volume 25, Issue 2

The Naples Forum on Service is a biennial research conference held for the first time in 2009 and for the fourth time planned from June 9 to 12, 2015, organized in charming venues of the Neapolitan gulf, in Italy. The three past forums have been characterized by original and stimulating discussions upon the forum themes with the three scientific pillars represented by Service Dominant logic, Network & Systems Theory and Service Science (look for updates at The environment, the organization and forum settings have been designed to favor co-creation and to foster concrete debate upon service advances in a rigorous but creative manner. The Naples Forum on Service spirit has been granted attention worldwide and the forum discussions as well as publications have a clear direction in the integration of the scientific background of the forum that we believe to be the most promising for future research. In this perspective the Naples Forum on Service is a conference strongly focused to radical research advances, looking for a revival of our disciplines. In the development of service research we have discerned three paradigms (Gummesson, 2012):

  • Paradigm 1 (pre-1970s) where service was not at all on the agenda in marketing and management research and education.

  • Paradigm 2 (1970s-2000s) when service research grew exponentially with seminal contributions from northern Europe, France, UK, USA and other countries with goods/services differences in the center but lacking syntheses and unifying theory.

  • Paradigm 3 (2000s-) when service research moved its focus from differences to commonalities and interdependencies between goods and services. It also moved from the supplier value chain to the value network of all stakeholders (“balanced centricity”) and service (in the singular) became the output irrespective of input (Vargo and Lusch, 2008). The roles of suppliers and customers have also changed through the recognition of co-creation of value (Payne et al., 2008; Pels et al., 2012) with resource integration through actor-to-actor interactions (A2A) (Gummesson and Polese, 2009; Gummesson and Mele, 2010). In the core of Paradigm 3 is the recognition of complexity characterizing every Service System (Barile et al., 2012), suggesting the adoption of a systemic perspective of service exchange (Mele et al., 2010; Ng et al., 2012).

Service-Dominant (S-D) Logic contributed a tentative higher level service theory of the best contributions of the past and showed directions for the future; it is a synthesis of the best from Paradigm 2 leaving unproductive approaches and myths behind, summarizing its message in ten foundational premises. In brief, these premises put the following to the fore. The most critical changes include moving from goods/services differences to goods/service interdependencies. The word service is given a new meaning, going from an undefined input to the value of the output and value-in-use or in a more generalized way to value-in-context. Service is the fundamental basis of exchange and goods are merely distribution mechanisms of service within social and economic actors as co-creators and resource integrators, implying that value creation takes place within service (eco)systems (Wieland et al., 2012) through interaction in complex networks and systems (Lusch and Vargo, 2014).

Service Science started from practitioner experiences and challenges our way of designing and implementing service systems (Spohrer et al., 2007; Maglio and Spohrer, 2008). Led by Jim Spohrer the Service Science program started in the early 2000s challenging the service systems that constitute today’s economies: are the systems efficient and innovative enough? They found they are not. Today the Service Science program cooperates with over 500 institutions of higher learning worldwide to stimulate research and education realizing a multidisciplinary open source program based on computer science, industrial engineering, organizational theory, business strategy and more, including the humanities (Maglio et al., 2011).

Network theory and systems theory offer both a way of thinking in relationships and interaction and techniques to address complexity and context (Badinelli et al., 2012). Network theory has primarily offered a systemic approach for B2B but has equal potential for B2C/C2B (business-to-consumer/consumer-to-business). Many-to-Many Marketing is a general approach that describes, analyzes and utilizes the network properties of marketing and recognizes that both suppliers and customers operate in complex network contexts (Gummesson, 2012). The Viable Systems Approach (VSA) is a systems theory-based application for management (Golinelli, 2010; Barile et al., 2012). It postulates that every business is a system, nested in a relational context where it is looking for competitive profiles (viability) through interaction with other actors/stakeholders. Its theory proposes a new representation of the behavioral approach to business and relational interactions with its context (Golinelli et al., 2012). In practice it shows in the development and implementation of business models.

These developments form the three pillars of the Naples Forum. With them it is motivated to label our current economy a Service Economy.

The transition to Paradigm 3 is developing – but it takes decades. Service research got under way 40 years ago and it is only now that we are beginning to sense the full picture of our economies as complex networks of service systems with a mission to enhance value for consumers, citizens, businesses and society as a whole (Gummesson et al., 2010; Mele et al., 2015). The Naples Forum is an effort to stimulate Paradigm 3 research, communicate it and speed up its progress. In this issue we have selected manuscripts presented and discussed at the 2013 forum that advance service research and, coherently with the scientific pillars of the forum, balance theoretical and practice approaches to service research.

The paper by María José Quero, and Rafael Ventura, titled “The role of balanced centricity in the Spanish creative industries adopting a crowd-funding organisational model”, analyses crowd-funding experiences in the cultural sector as models of a type of collective behavior valorizing the potentials of new technologies for diffuse benefits, examining co-creation as a basis for achieving balance in a crowd-funding environment from an empirical perspective.

The paper by Katri Kallio and Inka Lappalainen, titled “Organizational learning in an innovation network – enhancing the agency of public service organizations” addresses how collaborative service development in an innovation network can be approached as an organizational learning process from the perspective of a public service organization as the focal actor of a network including private companies, a facilitating KIBS company, and citizens as end-users that collaboratively develop new activities for unemployed young people.

The paper by Simone Guercini and Silvia Ranfagni, titled “Buyer-seller interaction in facility services: emerging paradoxes in the outsourcing approach of Italian municipalities”, focuses on buyer-seller interactions in business services approaches, investigating interactions developed by public organizations with suppliers of facility services addressing facility service management as an overall management approach for business services supporting the core activities of a firm.

The paper by Bo Enquist, Samuel Petros Sebhatu and Mikael Johnson, titled “Transcendence for business logics in value networks for sustainable service business” is about exploring transcendence for business logics to guide open business models and a stakeholder unifying perspective in value networks for sustainable service business. With this aim the authors posit that there is a need for a deeper understanding of the business logic from different angles such as a stakeholder-unifying perspective complemented by CSR and sustainability thinking, leading to co-creating value and sustainability in the network to understand the complex service system.

In the paper by Marco Tregua, Tiziana Russo-Spena and Claudia Casbarra, titled “Being social for social: a co-creation perspective”, authors assume that the ways in which the social and collective dimensions of ethical consumption affect customer value co-creation must be further explored. Thus the article analyses value co-creation in the ethical consumption context by extending the focus to customers and their relational contexts in the attempt to unravel the core mechanism of the full process of value co-creation in ethical consumption by focusing on the individual customer perspective in the ethical consumption context.

The article by Jennifer Chandler and Steven Chen, titled “Prosumer motivations in service experiences” make explicit the theoretical link between prosumers and co-creation clarifying the underlying motivations for prosumers’ participation in co-creation and service experiences and asserting that high-quality service experiences require service researchers and managers to better understand prosumers.

Associate Professor Francesco Polese, Department of Management and Information Technology, University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy

Associate Professor Cristina Mele, Department of Economics, Management and Institutions, University of Naples "Federico II", Naples, Italy

Professor Evert Gummesson, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden


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Wieland, H., Polese, F., Vargo, S. and Lusch, R. (2012), “Toward a service (eco)systems perspective on value creation”, International Journal of Service Science, Management Engineering, and Technology, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 12-25

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