The Naples Forum on Service: what’s ahead in service?

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Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 3 August 2012



Gummesson, E., Mele, C. and Polese, F. (2012), "The Naples Forum on Service: what’s ahead in service?", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 23 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The Naples Forum on Service: what’s ahead in service?

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Service Management, Volume 23, Issue 4

This special issue is based on the second Naples Forum on Service held in Capri, Italy, June 14-17, 2011. It gathered 150 participants from 25 countries. The Forum’s mission is to offer a meeting-place for deep and innovative dialogue between international scholars committed to developing the service management and marketing of the 2000s. The Forum is biennial and will be held for the third time on June 18-21, 2013. See further:

New approaches to service management and marketing have been brewing for the past four decades, challenging the 1960s marketing management and marketing mix. The new approaches have included service marketing and management, relationship marketing, customer relationship management, and relational and network applications in business-to-business marketing.

But at the new millennium we faced a fragmented and confusing situation. Service research had been growing worldwide at a rapid rate but after the first decades of pioneering contributions, we felt that it had reached a state of complacency. This is changing now.

With the 2000s, service is becoming the unifying concept for a new logic not only for business but also for markets, governments, customers and citizens. The new millennium has so far given us service-dominant (S-D) logic, service science, and many-to-many marketing, where relationships, networks and interaction are core concepts. They recognize contributions from past research and practice and offer further theory generation aiming at a systemic and more general, valid and abstract theory. They open up for the understanding of real world complexity, context, ambiguity and interdependencies. This requires a broader spectrum of research methodologies, including network and systems theory, and in-depth case study research.

The Naples Forum is focused on the “3 Pillars of Service”: S-D logic, network and systems theory, and service science. The Pillars are catching the imagination of scholars and practitioners worldwide as viable efforts to improve service and service systems for the benefit of all society. The Pillars are supportive of each other and they should be seen in this integrative spirit, all in line with network and systems thinking. S-D logic transforms the divides between goods/services and suppliers/customers into value propositions, resource integration, and co-created service. Service science attempts to provide more efficient and innovative service systems with user value in focus. They foster the development of a new logic of service, and require methodologies that address complexity, context, the whole and the parts. The integrative approach further strives to bridge the gap between service theory and service practice.

Within this framework, we posit six articles in this special issue, all based on presentations and discussions held at the 2011 Forum:

  1. 1.

    Evert Gummesson and Christian Grönroos offer a reflective account of the emergence of a new marketing logic as seen through the lens of the Nordic School of Service. They approach the past, present and future of service, management and marketing with the conviction that progress is not only the outcome of scholarly research but is also closely linked to the personalities and motives of its actors and their research environments.

  2. 2.

    Ralph Badinelli, Sergio Barile, Irene Ng, Francesco Polese, Marialuisa Saviano and Primiano Di Nauta address complex service systems. They propose that in order to strengthen decision making, service research can greatly benefit from the viable systems approach.

  3. 3.

    Tiziana Russo-Spena and Cristina Mele bring innovation into the realm of practices by moving the focus from the outcome to the process – i.e. from innovation as a new artefact to the act of innovating. Innovating is the system of on-going co-creation practices performed by people who merge their resources in order to offer something new and better.

  4. 4.

    Anu Helkkula, Carol Kelleher and Minna Pihlström present experiences from practice and relate them to current developments in value research within S-D logic and the broader service domain.

  5. 5.

    Montserrat Díaz-Méndez and Evert Gummesson investigate value co-creation in higher education. They reject the simplistic view that teachers are the providers of learning and students the consumers. They offer a wider perspective on higher learning as the outcome of resource integration between teachers, students and supportive service provided by a university.

  6. 6.

    Taru Hakanen and Elina Jaakkola contribute to the solutions literature by studying solutions as a network-level process of resource integration between multiple suppliers and their mutual customers, and by applying a service framework to the study of integrated solutions.

We especially want to express our gratitude to the reviewers of this issue: Roberto Aguiari, Luisa Andreu, Antonella Carù, Jennifer Chandler, Daniela Corsaro, Phil Godsiff, Aino Halinen-Kaila, Maria Holmlund, Lars-Johan Lindqvist, Victoria Little, Nicoletta Occhiocupo, Katri Ojasalo, Jaqueline Pels, Mike Saren, Adrianne Schäfer, Roberta Sebastiani and Jim Spohrer. Their constructive advice has been of great support to the authors and editors.

Evert Gummesson, Cristina Mele, Francesco PoleseGuest Editors

Further Reading

Barile, S. and Saviano, M. (2011), “Qualifying the concept of systems complexity”, in VV.AA. (Ed.), Contributions to Theoretical and Practical Advances in Management: A Viable Systems Approach (VSA), ASVSA – Association for research on Viable Systems, International Printing, Avellino

Golinelli, G.M. (2010), Viable Systems Approach (VSA): Governing Business Dynamics, CEDAM, Padova

Gummesson, E. and Mele, C. (2010), “Marketing as co-creation of value through network interacting and resource integration”, Journal of Business Market Management, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 181–98

Gummesson, E. and Polese, F. (2009), “B2B is not an island!”, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 24 Nos 5/6, pp. 337–50

Gummesson, E., Lusch, R.F. and Vargo, S.L. (2010), “Transitioning from service management to service-dominant logic: observations and recommendations”, International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 8–22

Maglio, P.P. and Spohrer, J. (2008), “Fundamentals of service science”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 18–20

Mele, C., Pels, J. and Polese, F. (2010), “A brief review of systems theories and their managerial applications”, Service Science, Vol. 2 Nos 1/2, pp. 116–24

Vargo, S.L. and Lusch, R.F. (2006), “The service-dominant logic of marketing: reactions, reflections, and refinements”, Marketing Theory, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 281–8

Vargo, S.L. and Lusch, R.F. (2008), “Service-dominant logic: continuing the evolution”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 1–10

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