Research Priorities for the Science of Service
Evolving business models and emerging academic paradigms suggest that “all
businesses are service businesses.” Services have become a driving force in economies
around the world: they dominate advanced economies and represent critical growth
levers for emerging economies. This growth, coupled with the complex nature of
services, has created signifi cant opportunities and challenges for businesses worldwide
as they seek to compete and innovate through service. As a result, governments,
academic institutions and businesses are calling for increased focus on building a
science of service. Ideally, this new science will direct and support emerging business
models, innovations, and service paradigms that will shape our world for generations
Despite the need and enthusiastic global response, the efforts to create a science of
service have been dispersed and fragmented. The time seems ripe for a cohesive effort
to establish priorities and build a foundation for the science of service going forward.
This backdrop led us at Arizona State University’s Center for Services Leadership (CSL)
to spearhead an effort to identify global, interdisciplinary, and business-relevant
priorities for the science of service. The results of this effort are presented in this report
and the associated Journal of Service Research article1. It is our hope that the priorities
will drive discussions, decisions, and investments within and across academia,
business, and governments to build thought leadership and direct business practice.
To develop the priorities, we secured diverse inputs from over 300 business
executives and academics from a variety of disciplines, functions, and geographies.
These rich inputs led to 10 overarching priorities for the science of service:
• Fostering Service Infusion and Growth,
• Improving Well-Being through Transformative Service,
• Creating and Maintaining a Service Culture,
• Stimulating Service Innovation,
• Enhancing Service Design,
• Optimizing Service Networks and Value Chains,
• Effectively Branding and Selling Services,
• Enhancing the Service Experience through Co-creation,
• Measuring and Optimizing the Value of Service, and
• Leveraging Technology to Advance Service.
Within each priority, we identifi ed high-value topic areas to inform and direct research
activities at a fi ner-grained level. We also secured commentaries on each of the
priorities from service-minded executives and academics which feature high-value
questions needing attention. All of this is included in the report that follows.
We strongly encourage you to digest, share, discuss, use, and revisit the priorities
and select topic areas. We hope these priorities will enable you to enhance your
strategic emphases and support your service innovation efforts. We do not expect all
priorities to be relevant and meaningful to every company, organization or individual.
Yet, we hope the report will broaden your perspective and accelerate the advancement
of services in your company and with your customers.
For more depth and detail around this effort and each of the priorities, please see: Ostrom, Amy L., Mary
Jo Bitner, Stephen W. Brown, Kevin A. Burkhard, Michael Goul, Vicki Smith-Daniels, Haluk Demirkan, and
Elliot Rabinovich (2010), “Moving Forward and Making a Difference: Research Priorities for the Science of
Service,” Journal of Service Research, 13 (1), 4-36.