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The role of proto-institutions within the change of service ecosystems

Michael Kleinaltenkamp (Marketing Department, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany)
Daniela Corsaro (Department of Business, Law, Economics and Consumer Behavior, IULM University, Milan, Italy)
Roberta Sebastiani (Department of Economic and Business Management Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 23 July 2018

Issue publication date: 4 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of proto-institutions that are new institutional subsystems that subsequently affect the current institutional arrangements in the evolution of service ecosystems.


To shed light on the mode of action of proto-institutions, the authors investigate the changes of three service ecosystems in Italy: the health care ecosystem, the food-supply ecosystem and the urban mobility ecosystem.


First, the paper elucidates how changes of service ecosystems are triggered by megatrends that are external to specific service ecosystems. Second, the study empirically shows how service ecosystems and their institutional settings change through the establishment of proto-institutions.


Responding to recent calls to investigate in more detail how actors challenge dominant social patterns and to conduct research to better understand how changes at the level of individual actors may lead to shifts within overall service ecosystems, this paper is one of the first to empirically study the relationships between phenomena that are external to service ecosystems, the emergence of proto-institutions and the resulting changes of institutional arrangements.



Kleinaltenkamp, M., Corsaro, D. and Sebastiani, R. (2018), "The role of proto-institutions within the change of service ecosystems", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 609-635.



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