The Naples Forum on Service has reached its fourth edition and, after the success of its past experiences (see www.naplesforumonservice.it) is about to start its organization with inspiring scientific premises. For the 2015 Forum we move from islands to the hearth of the city of Naples, in a charming cultural and historic venue; the historic city centre is the largest in Europe and is listed by UNESCO as a Wold Heritage Site. The Naples Forum is an effort to stimulate Paradigm 3 research, communicate it and speed up its progress (for a brief article on the paradigms, see Gummesson, 2012).
• Paradigm 1 (pre-1970s) where service was not at all on the agenda in marketing and management research and education.
• Paradigm 2 (1970s-2000s) when service research grew exponentially with seminal contributions from Northern Europe, France, UK, USA and other countries with goods/services differences in the center but lacking syntheses and unifying theory.
• Paradigm 3 (2000s-) when service research moved its focus from differences to commonalities and interdependencies between goods and services. It also moved from the supplier value chain to the value network of all stakeholders (“balanced centricity”) and service (in the singular) became the output irrespective of input. The roles of suppliers and customers have also changed through the recognition ofcocreation of value with resource integration with customer-to-customer interaction (C2C) or more broadly as actor-to-actor interaction (A2A). In the core of Paradigm 3 is the recognition of complexity. Service systems are enormously complex – it is not sufficient to study the relationship between just a few variables. The new millennium brought with it openings to address complexity and take a more systemic view. Service-Dominant (S-D) Logic contributed a tentative higher level service theory of the best contributions of the past and showed directions for the future. Service Science started from practitioner experiences and challenges our way of designing and implementing service systems. Network Theory and Systems Theory have been deployed to address complexity with applications like Many-to-Many-Marketing and the Viable Systems Approach (VSA). These developments form the 3 Pillars of the Naples Forum. With them it is motivated to label our current economy a Service Economy.
The transition to Paradigm 3 is developing – but it takes time and effort. Service research got under way 40 years ago and it is only now that we are beginning to sense the full picture of our economies as complex networks of service systems with a mission to enhance value for consumers, citizens, businesses and society as a whole. The following sections offer brief reviews of the characteristics of the 3 Pillars ending with reference to some recent publications on each of them.
Service Dominant (S-D) Logic
S-D logic summarizes its message in four axioms and ten foundational premises. In brief, these premises put the following to the fore. The most critical changes include moving from goods/services differences to goods/service interdependencies. The word service is given a new meaning, going from an undefined input to the value of the output and value-in-use or in a more generalized way to value-in-context. Service is the fundamental basis of exchange (axiom 1) and goods are merely distribution mechanisms of service. Both businesses and customers are operant (active) resources as opposed to the mainstream marketing and economics idea that suppliers do things to customers who are just reactive or passive (operand resources). A supplier can only offer a value proposition on the market; the customers is always a co-creator of value (axiom 2) whereas value actualization rest with users in an idiosyncratic and contextual way (axiom 4). The network aspect is implicit through the statement that all social and economic actors are cocreators and resource integrators (axiom 3), implying that value creation takes place through interaction in complex networks and systems. Bob Lusch and SteveVargo who designed S-D logic keep developing it and treat it as an open code where everyone is welcome to make constructive contributions
Service Science is a call for academia, industry, and governments to become more systemic about service performance and innovation. The ultimate goal of Service Science is to apply scientific knowledge to the design and improvements of service systems for business and societal purposes. The concern is that we do not master seamless and reliable service systems at a time when systems are becoming increasingly complex and global, making us increasingly vulnerable to systems sluggishness and failure. Every service system is both a provider and client of service that is connected by value propositions in value-creating networks. Service Science is a multidisciplinary open source program based on computer science, industrial engineering, organizational theory, business strategy and more, including the humanities. In terms of science it investigates what service systems are and how they evolve, and the roles of people, knowledge, shared information and technology, as well as the relevance of customers inside production processes; in terms of management it investigates how to improve and evaluate quality and productivity; and in terms of engineering it develops new designs of service systems with better technologies and software. Service Science is the study of complex service systems; such a simple and straight forward definition calls for intriguing issues due to the ample set of disciplines, research methods, cultural domains and areas of interest in order to capture the powerful insights and the essence of service in technological setting and in today life.
Network and Systems Theory
The words complexity, networks and systems pinpoint the same phenomena. Complexity is derived from the Latin verb complecti, meaning “to twine together” and the noun complexus means “network”. The word “system” is derived from the Greek systema, meaning “a whole composed of many parts”. So the meanings of the three words overlap and expose their interdependency. From these words different traditions have sprung up. Network theory and systems theory offer both a way of thinking in relationships and interaction and techniques to address complexity and context. These are part of complexity theory where many others, for example, chaos theory, fractal geometry and autopoiesis (self-organizing systems) belong. Complexity theory exists both in social sciences, natural sciences and technology but is not utilized efficiently by management disciplines. Network theory has primarily offered a systemic approach for B2B but has equal potential for B2C/C2B (business-to-consumer/consumer-to-business). Many-to-Many Marketing is a general approach that describes, analyzes and utilizes the network properties of marketing and recognizes that both suppliers and customers operate in complex network contexts. The Viable Systems Approach (VSA) is a systems theory-based application for management. It postulates that every business is a system, nested in a relational context where it is looking for competitive profiles (viability) through interaction with other actors/stakeholders. Its theory proposes a new representation of the behavioral approach to business and relational interactions with its context. In practice it is a methodological proposal that enables a better understanding of business models, supporting decision making in complex context. Networks and systems thinking are integral parts of both S-D logic and Service Science.
Developing Paradigm 3 through Naples Forum Publications
Within the 3 Pillars lots of activities including extensive publishing takes place. Lusch and Vargo have been involved in over 50 articles and 20 book chapters, edited several Special Issues of journals, and spoken continuously at conferences, universities and business firms around the world. Jim Spohrer and his colleagues, together with Forum participants publish continuously on Service Science, including three recent books. Network and systems theory is increasingly integrated with the two other pillars and is the lead theme for several authors, not least from Italian researchers, the Nordic School and the IMP Group. The Naples Forum stimulates Paradigm 3 research, communicates it and speeds up its progress. The Forum supports the efforts of the participants to publish by co-authoring with other participants and adopt presented papers to articles in journals of their own choice and in special Forum issues. As a result of past edition of the forum more than 80 articles were published in 10 journal special issues of , among the others, Journal of Service Management, Managing Service Quality, Service Science, Journal of Business Market Management, Mercati e Competitività, etc. In this context we stimulate senior and young researchers to submit their proposal based upon the above mentioned Paradigm 3 spirit, valorizing interdisciplinary reflections by focusing on more than one Forum pillar and looking for research convergences supporting the advance of our research community.
Call for Papers
We invite proposals dealing with themes within one or several of the 3 Forum Pillars: S-D logic, Service Science, and Network/Systems theory. We especially encourage submissions with an integrative perspective. The proposals could be theoretical and/or empirical and based on qualitative and/or quantitative research. In order to submit an abstract, directions are given at the www.naplesforumonservice.it web page. Abstracts must be structured and follow the format of Emerald journal abstracts. Topics could include the following:
– Business models to manage networks and service systems – Systems Theory, Complexity theory and emergence
– Experience, value-in-use and value-in-context
– Industry 4.0 and digital transformation
– Service Innovation
– Institutional logics in service research
– Integration and management of resources and capabilities
– Methodological challenges and issues in service research
– Multi-disciplinary approaches in service research
– Practice-theory in service research
– Service ecosystems and markets dynamics
– Emergence and Institutionalization in Service Eco-systems
– Service systems and systems thinking
– The Human-Side of Service Engineering
– The Viable Systems Approach (VSA)
– Value co-creation and the changing role of suppliers and customers
– Value propositions
– Artificial intelligence and the human machine service interaction
– Shaping systemic markets – elements, processes and outcomes
– Actor engagement and market-shaping
– The role of media, technology, and professions in shaping markets
– Service-Dominant logic as a grand theory
– Sales Transformation and Smart Technologies
IMPORTANT: These and possible other subthemes must have a clear connection to one or several of the 3 Forum Pillars.
A purpose of the Naples Forum is to get different generations of researchers together both at the organized sessions and informally during breaks and social events. In the final selection of submissions, both senior researchers and newcomers will be given a chance to present. There will be plenary sessions as well as parallel sessions.
Entry into the doctoral workshop is competitive, and places will be limited to 20 students. If you would like to participate in the workshop, please submit an application containing:
– Research proposal summarizing your PhD project (max 1500 words, excluding references)
– Brief motivation letter explaining how you would contribute to the workshop, and how the workshop fits your research interests
– Short academic CV
The application should be sent by 8 June 2021 via email to all the co-chairs (see addresses below), using the subject line ‘NFS 2021 doctoral workshop’. Submitters will be informed whether they have been accepted for the workshop by March 10, 2021.