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Exciting times for service scholarship
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Volume 25, Issue 5.
Service scholarship has reached an exciting stage. Nothing shows this better than the large number of service-focused research centres all over the globe and the number of special issues in an ever-increasing number of service-related journals. Most importantly, however, these trends reflect and are driven by the increasing need for service-related knowledge both for businesses and society at large (Ostrom et al., 2015). Acquiring this service-related knowledge simultaneously represents both challenges and opportunities; challenge, as scholars are faced with the need to look more beyond their own disciplines in order to synthesize knowledge across boundaries. However, these cross-disciplinary collaborations provide a very exciting field for creating better understanding of a particular phenomenon from a broader perspective and give opportunities for exploring new ideas.
From the beginning of 2015, this journal has been reintroduced under a new title, the Journal of Service Theory and Practice (Ranaweera and Sigala, 2015), which is a further acknowledgement and reinforcement of the notion of this ever-extending field, and the interdisciplinary nature of service research. This Special Issue was kindly offered by the current editors of the journal as part of an on-going initiative to maintain a strong link with the community of the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy (ANZMAC). Service-related papers were invited for this special edition of the journal from the submissions at the Conference of the ANZMAC held at the University of Auckland Business School in 2013. Although the manuscripts in this special edition represent only a small fraction of the presentations at ANZMAC, the six excellent papers included in this issue highlight key areas that accentuate the current trends in service research. While no particular theme was specified for the special edition, several papers underline the transformational nature of services by emphasizing well-being at the individual level while at the same time underlining societal-level impacts and implications (Anderson et al., 2013). Customer value creation and co-creation has emerged as another important theme, and the authors have aimed to capture value creation in its multi-actor complexity and to understand aspects that can enhance service experience. Both of these themes were listed among the recently published list of 12 service research priorities (Ostrom et al., 2015).
The first paper, “Achieving growth – quality of work life ambidexterity in small firms”, by Lan Snell, Phyra Sok and Tracey S. Danaher (Dagger) takes a fresh perspective on small firm success by examining the concept of ambidexterity. Since success from a business owner’s perspective can be substantially different from an external viewpoint, practices that can facilitate the symbiosis of financial objectives such as the growth of the firm, and non-financial ones such as quality of work life, should be in the focus of policy makers and small firm advisors. The authors’ research reiterates the message that small business owners need to have strong self-belief in their abilities and passion for their work, in order to increase the survival potential of their firms. By investigating this dual focus and the strategic dilemma that small firm owners face during their daily activities, the authors contribute to the management and alignment of growth and quality of work life objectives.
In the second paper “Stigmatized service workers in crisis: mitigating the effects of negative media”, Simon J. Pervan and Liliana Bove examine public attitudes toward stigmatized service workers following a crisis. This research draws attention to a group of service workers, who are often the subject of media scrutiny after a crisis, and shows that the resulting high attrition rates among these socially stigmatized workers ultimately leads to high costs to the society at large. By concurrently employing and contrasting crisis communication and empathetic concern theories, the authors conclude that the two theories can complement and compete with each other under certain circumstances.
The third paper “Determining value in a complex service setting”, authored by Carolin Plewa, Jillian C. Sweeney and David Michayluk, focuses on exploring the concept of customer value-in-use in complex service settings, such as financial planning services. By reviewing previously proposed dimensions of customer value conceptualizations, the authors suggest that researchers exercise caution when they identify cost and benefit dimensions for complex services. Accordingly, they not only develop a more nuanced view of non-monetary costs and benefits by underscoring the relevance of emotional and lifestyle costs (with regard to non-monetary costs) and education and motivational value (with regard to benefits), but they also assign these dimensions to value creation spheres. By emphasizing the critical role of communication and education (in early stages of customer-firm relationship) this paper is exemplary in showcasing the temporal dynamics of value-in-use dimensions and their contribution to long-term relationship development.
The fourth paper, “Factors influencing back pain treatment behaviour change” authored by Hoda McClymont, Jeff Gow, Margee Hume and Chad Perry, draws attention to health care customers moving towards alternative medicine and away from traditional medical practices. In particular, this study develops a comprehensive conceptual framework of the triggers that influence back pain sufferers’ decisions in choosing and switching between treatments and providers. By identifying various switching paths of consumers and connecting them with particular switching triggers, the authors have managed to capture complex switching behaviour in its complexity, and ultimately offer the potential to influence medical practice.
The fifth manuscript by Thomas Robbert, “Feeling nickeled and dimed: consequences of drip pricing” brings this practice – where an initially low, base price is compounded with additional charges as the purchase process unfolds – into focus. Drip pricing has gained popularity over the years with many businesses, such as airlines. Although the findings highlight the negative consequences (in contrast to price partitioning where the price is separated into a base price and additional mandatory surcharges) this research also highlights the circumstances in which drip pricing is an appropriate strategy.
The sixth paper, “The impact of word of mouth on service purchase decisions: examining risk and the interaction of tie strength and involvement” by Peter A. Voyer and Chatura Ranaweera addresses the impact of tie strength and involvement on the influence of word-of-mouth communications. In particular, the authors’ conceptualization captures outcomes and psychological risks that influence the receiver’s involvement in the purchase decision. The findings of this paper reveal that while both tie strength and involvement positively influence the receiver’s service choice, they also interact, and with the presence of stronger (weaker) ties between customers, involvement’s role diminishes (increases). The authors underscore the need for companies to better understand their customers and the connection between their customers.
Dr Laszlo Sajtos - University of Auckland Business School, Auckland, New Zealand
The guest editor would like to thank the journal editors for offering this opportunity to the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy and would also like to acknowledge Helga Arlington for her copyediting services.
Anderson, L., Ostrom, A.L., Corus, C., Fisk, R.P., Gallan, A.S., Giraldo, M., Mende, M., Mulder, M., Rayburn, S.W. Rosenbaum, M.S., Shirahada, K. and Williams, J.D. (2013), “Transformative service research: an agenda for the future”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 66 No. 8, pp. 1203-1210
Ostrom, A.L., Parasuraman, A., Bowen, D.E., Patricio, L. and Voss, C.A. (2015), “Moving forward and making a difference: research priorities for the science of service”, Journal of Service Research, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 4-36
Ranaweera, C. and Sigala, M. (2015), “From service quality to service theory and practice”, Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 2-9