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A service research contribution to the global challenge of sustainability

Marialuisa Saviano (Department of Management and Information Technology, University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)
Sergio Barile (Department of Management, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy)
James Clinton Spohrer (IBM University Programs (IBM UP) and Cognitive Systems Institute, IBM Almaden Research Center, San Josè, California, USA)
Francesco Caputo (Department of Computer Systems and Communications, Faculty of Informatics, Masarykova Univerzita, Brno, Czech Republic)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 11 September 2017




Poverty, hunger, inequalities, diseases, unsustainable use of resources, etc., in spite of scientific progress, still remains unsolved worldwide issues. All these issues relate to the challenges of sustainability and sustainable development that now call for urgent answers. The purpose of this paper is to explore how the service research community can respond to this call and to identify key areas of potential contribution.


After a brief review of selected service literature aimed at exploring its interest in the topics of sustainability and sustainable development, the authors develop the interpretative proposal identifying the key requirements of a global engagement in the challenge of sustainability and sustainable development and highlighting the potential contribution of service research.


Findings highlight the potential contribution of service research to the global challenge of sustainability and suggest acting upon education by considering the “T-Shaped” professional model as a possible reference for embedding sustainability in the education of future managers and addressing the need of interdisciplinary thinking through the systems approach.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed study of service literature is only an exploratory analysis of main contributions that does not aim to identify gaps but only to highlight the potential of a greater engagement of service research in the global call for a more sustainable and inclusive development.

Practical implications

A trans-disciplinary approach is also required. This implies the involvement of the business and the social real world.


This paper represents a novel call for engaging the service research community in a boundary-crossing collaboration with the aim of contributing to address the challenge of sustainability.



Saviano, M., Barile, S., Spohrer, J.C. and Caputo, F. (2017), "A service research contribution to the global challenge of sustainability", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 951-976.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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