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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 19 April 2022

Kristina Heinonen and Tore Strandvik

The purpose of this paper is to apply pragmatism – a philosophy of science on the interplay of human actions and meaning – as a perspective for studying service research…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to apply pragmatism – a philosophy of science on the interplay of human actions and meaning – as a perspective for studying service research and practice, emphasizing the need to deal with dynamics and diversity to cope with service marketplace disruptions. This work focuses on customers (individuals or groups of individuals) as key marketplace stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach

Pragmatism provides a foundation for theorizing about change by connecting human actors’ cognitive belief structures and their actions through a continuous learning process. This paper outlines how the key principles of pragmatism can advance service research and practice.

Findings

Adopting the key principles of pragmatism in service management directs attention to service market dynamics. Understanding customers’ everyday lives as the interplay of experiencing, knowing and acting reveals insights about the role of service in dynamic markets for the benefit of service research and practice.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is a viewpoint to stimulate researchers’ reflections on often hidden core assumptions about service. Pragmatism provides a perspective on actors’ practical rationality and problem solving in dynamic settings. Along with its emphasis on a holistic understanding of customers’ lives, this perspective provides direction for future service research and practice. Further, conceptual development and empirical substantiation are encouraged.

Practical implications

By focusing on marketplace changes, this paper addresses management concerns for commercial and non-commercial organizations. Pragmatism encourages critical reflections on what companies are doing and why (the connection between actions and beliefs), revealing underlying beliefs and institutionalized industry practices that require modifications.

Social implications

Pragmatism is an approach to service research and practice, irrespective of aggregation level and sector. Therefore, it can help stimulate societal welfare.

Originality/value

Pragmatism advances service research by delineating a holistic perspective on customers’ lives and providing a perspective for exploring and understanding dynamics and diversity in service markets.

Details

Journal of Services Marketing, vol. 36 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0887-6045

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 9 January 2017

Maria Holmlund, Tore Strandvik and Ilkka Lähteenmäki

The purpose of this paper is to explore the mental models of top executive team members in a selected retail bank. The focus is on how each executive team member makes…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the mental models of top executive team members in a selected retail bank. The focus is on how each executive team member makes sense of the market situation and changes with regard to customers and customer-bank interactions in the current situation where earlier bank practices are at risk of becoming obsolete.

Design/methodology/approach

All members in the executive team were interviewed individually in August 2014 on how they reason about challenges in the service business. The study uses an abductive research approach.

Findings

The mental models were largely dominated by internal bank issues, and adjusting the services to changing customer preferences was considered a main challenge. The research analysis showed that the executive team members identified the same business challenges, but their interpretations of the meanings and implications of the challenges were different. Mental models tend to be hidden and stable and are seldom explicitly elaborated. There was a distinct spread in mental models in terms of content. Limited focus was on customers as the starting point for business development and renewal.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted in the retail banking setting, which is currently affected by many changes. The study, however, was limited to executive members in one bank.

Practical implications

The foremost implications of this study relate to sensitising executive members and teams to their mental models and exposing different core challenges related to customers and customer relationships in the retail banking sector.

Originality/value

The value of the study is it sheds light on top executives’ prospective sensemaking of current business challenges by addressing individual mental models. The study represents a novel approach in the strategic service management literature.

Details

Journal of Service Theory and Practice, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2055-6225

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 24 May 2022

Jacob Mickelsson, Ulla Särkikangas, Tore Strandvik and Kristina Heinonen

People with complex health conditions must often navigate landscapes of uncoordinated public, private and voluntary health-care providers to obtain the care they need…

Abstract

Purpose

People with complex health conditions must often navigate landscapes of uncoordinated public, private and voluntary health-care providers to obtain the care they need. Complex health conditions frequently transcend the scope of typical health-care service systems. The purpose of this paper is to explore and characterize such unique assemblages of actors and services as “user-defined ecosystems”.

Design/methodology/approach

Building on literature on customer ecosystems, this paper introduces the concept of the user-defined ecosystem (UDE). Using an abductive approach, the authors apply the concept in an interpretive, qualitative study of ten families with special needs children.

Findings

This study uncovers complex UDEs, where families actively combine a broad range of services. These ecosystems are unique for each family and extend beyond the scope of designed service ecosystems. Thus, the families are forced to assume an active, coordinating role.

Research limitations/implications

This paper shows how to identify ecosystems from the user’s point of view, based on the selected user unit (such as a family) and the focal value-creating function of the ecosystem for the user.

Social implications

This paper highlights how service providers can support and adapt to UDEs and, thus, contribute to user value and well-being. This can be used to understand users’ perspectives on service and systems in health and social care.

Originality/value

This study develops the concept of the UDE, which represents a customer-focused perspective on actor ecosystems and contrasts it with a provider-focused and a distributed perspective on ecosystems. This study demonstrates the practical usefulness of the conceptualization and provides a foundation for further research on the user’s perspective on ecosystems.

Details

Journal of Services Marketing, vol. 36 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0887-6045

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 15 September 2020

Kristina Heinonen and Tore Strandvik

The empirical study draws on a crowdsourced database of 221 innovations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Abstract

Purpose

The empirical study draws on a crowdsourced database of 221 innovations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design/methodology/approach

Aside from the health and humanitarian crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an acute economic downturn in most sectors, forcing public and private organizations to rethink and reconfigure service provision. The paper introduces the concept of imposed service innovation as a new strategic lens to augment the extant view of service innovation as a primarily discretionary activity.

Findings

The identified imposed service innovations were assigned to 11 categories and examined in terms of their strategic horizon and strategic stretch. The innovations are characterized by spatial flexibility, social and health outreach and exploitation of technology.

Research limitations/implications

As a new area of service innovation research, imposed service innovations highlight strategic issues that include the primacy of customers and the fragility of institutions.

Practical implications

Situations involving imposed service innovation represent opportunities for rapid business development when recognized as such. A severe disruption such as a pandemic can catalyze managerial rethinking as organizations are forced to look beyond their existing business strategies.

Social implications

As a strategic response to severe disruption of institutions, markets and service offerings, imposed service innovations afford opportunities to implement transformation and enhance well-being. This novel strategic lens foregrounds a societal account of service innovation, emphasizing societal relevance and context beyond the challenges of business viability alone.

Originality/value

While extant service innovation research has commonly focused on discretionary activities that enable differentiation and growth, imposed service innovations represent actions for resilience and renewal.

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 7 October 2013

Kristina Heinonen, Maria Holmlund and Tore Strandvik

577

Abstract

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 24 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

Article
Publication date: 25 September 2018

Tore Strandvik, Kristina Heinonen and Sanna Vollmer

This paper aims to identify how, in contrast to a provider-oriented stance where customer value is conceptualised as being controlled by the provider, customer value is…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to identify how, in contrast to a provider-oriented stance where customer value is conceptualised as being controlled by the provider, customer value is formed for business customers beyond what is visible to the provider.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper builds on the primacy of the customer. Customer-dominant logic (CDL) is used as the conceptual underpinning, meaning that the customer, rather than the service provider or the service system, is at the centre. A case study was conducted with seven key users from three customer companies of an information and communications technology (ICT) provider of in-house services. The study used a micro-social level focus by capturing customers’ experiences of those activities where value in use is formed.

Findings

The findings indicate that value formation is not related only to direct service interactions and furthermore substantially takes place beyond a service provider’s visibility line. Hence, value formation is in large part hidden for the service provider because it is embedded in customers’ activities and experiences.

Research limitations/implications

Although the study is limited to one case concerning ICT services, these findings may apply to other service businesses, in particular to knowledge-intensive outsourcing businesses.

Practical implications

Understanding a customer’s value formation from the customer’s point of view is the key to service development for any business service provider.

Originality/value

Applying a CDL approach, the authors deepen the understanding of customer value formation as it emerges in customer activities. The study provides detailed insight into business customers’ value formation processes. The study’s findings challenge the current emphasis on interactions and co-creation and instead demonstrate the importance of understanding customer logics and contexts.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 34 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 April 2000

Bo Edvardsson and Tore Strandvik

Focuses on the criticality of critical incidents in customer relationships. Aims to discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the notion of “critical” in a…

3978

Abstract

Focuses on the criticality of critical incidents in customer relationships. Aims to discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the notion of “critical” in a critical incident. Why is something perceived as critical? What does it lead to? Is criticality a feature built into the service or is it a contextually‐defined phenomenon, depending both on the customer, the service provider, the interaction and the surrounding relationship environment? Suggests a contextual framework for describing, analysing and understanding critical incidents, based on the idea that critical incidents are always embedded in customer relationships. Two interdependent context dimensions are used: the time dimension, and the situational dimension. These elements, combined, lead to a focus on customer‐perceived and relationship‐oriented contexts, which reveal new insights into the role of critical incidents. This framework is used in an empirical study concerning business customers’ perceptions of “critical incidents” in their relationship with a hotel. The findings indicate that the majority of positive and negative critical incidents reported had only a minor impact on customer behavior.

Details

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-4529

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 October 2013

Tore Martin Strandvik and Kristina Heinonen

Managing service brands entails managing a portfolio of brand relationships with customers and non-customers. The paper develops a framework for diagnosing the strength of…

3520

Abstract

Purpose

Managing service brands entails managing a portfolio of brand relationships with customers and non-customers. The paper develops a framework for diagnosing the strength of a service brand colored by a customer-dominant business logic perspective. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Combining insights from the literature on branding, service, and relationship management, the paper develops a customer-dominant conceptual and methodological approach. Brand strength captures customers' attachment to a brand in terms of their thoughts, feelings, and actions toward the brand. Since brand strength is the configuration of customers' and non-customers' brand relationships, the paper divides the brand relationship into two components – brand connection and purchase status – to compose a brand strength map.

Findings

Grounded in customers' accumulated positive and negative experiences, the framework creates a diagnostic picture of the strength of the brand, and an illustrative empirical study demonstrates the mapping procedure's applicability to service brands.

Research limitations/implications

The approach is an alternative to a traditional measurement scale development approach. Future studies should explore the framework's adaptability to different contexts, stakeholders, and industries.

Practical implications

The distinctive model comprehensively captures the aggregate picture of customers' brand relationships, and the managerially parsimonious framework can be adapted to different service settings.

Originality/value

The framework represents a novel diagnostic tool for service companies to explore their brand's strength. The approach is unique because it adopts a customer-dominant perspective. Furthermore, it includes behavior with a relational perspective and negative responses, which reduce overall brand strength.

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 24 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Review of Marketing Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-7656-1306-6

Article
Publication date: 1 April 2014

Bo Edvardsson, Christian Kowalkowski, Tore Strandvik and Päivi Voima

This paper aims to extend understanding of business-to-business relationship dynamics by introducing and discussing the phenomenon of a “negative critical wave” (NCW)…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to extend understanding of business-to-business relationship dynamics by introducing and discussing the phenomenon of a “negative critical wave” (NCW), defined as a disturbance in a relationship that emerges and develops within or beyond individual working relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

The dynamics of working relationships in two manufacturing firms in Finland and Sweden were studied by analysing the narratives of unstructured personal interviews with 16 middle managers and 14 operational executives, who recalled experiences of relevant situations over three years, with emphasis on unexpected disturbances, challenges and problems.

Findings

Respondents discussed 77 NCWs, the development and effect of which proved to depend upon the original “locus”, “magnitude” and “amplitude”, and embedded “energy”. Waves could be distinguished as: “silent compact”, “silent extensive”, “intense compact” or “intense extensive”.

Research limitations/implications

The wave metaphor for relationships dynamics, consistent with but distinct from established notions of “critical time” and “critical incidents” and the associated classification system are a useful starting point for further research into the phenomenon. Though the qualitative methodology achieved richness, the small sample and restricted scope place limits on the objectivity and generalisability of the findings.

Practical implications

The NCW framework offers strategists and managers a holistic understanding of the dynamic process of criticality, synthesising the complexities of relationship dynamics and pointing to ways in which to absorb the energy of negative waves.

Originality/value

More is now known about the domino effects of critical incidents in internal and external business-to-business relationships.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

Keywords

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