Table of Contents

Handbook of Service Business

Handbook of Service Business

Management, Marketing, Innovation and Internationalisation

Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by John R. Bryson and Peter W. Daniels

Service business accounts for more than 75 per cent of the wealth and employment created in most developed market economies. The management and economics of service business is based around selling expertise, knowledge and experiences. This Handbook contributes to on-going debates about the nature of service business and the characteristics of service-led economies by exploring disciplinary perspectives on services, services and core business processes and the management of service business. A series of case studies are also provided. The volume pushes back the frontiers of current critical thinking about the role of service business by bringing together eminent scholars from economics, management, sociology, public policy, planning and geography.

Chapter 4: The new scientific study of service

Paul P. Maglio and Cheryl A. Kieliszewski

Subjects: business and management, marketing, economics and finance, services, geography, economic geography, urban and regional studies, regional studies


Over the last ten years, we and others at IBM Research have begun to consider seriously the nature of service businesses and the opportunities for improvement and innovation in service (Horn, 2005; IBM Research, 2005; Spohrer and Maglio, 2008). It should be no surprise that scientists at IBM would focus on what has become IBM’s biggest and fastest-growing set of businesses: outsourcing and consulting services (IBM, 2012; Spohrer and Maglio, 2008). We found a rich and diverse set of disciplinary research on service, including economics, marketing, operations, industrial engineering, computer science, design and more (for reviews, see Fisk and Grove, 2010 and Spohrer and Maglio, 2010b). But we also found fragmentation and a lack of awareness among researchers and scientists in these various disciplines (Rust, 2004; Spohrer and Maglio, 2010b). Service science is the term we used to try to draw the various disciplinary threads together into a single, coherent study of service phenomena (Maglio, Srinivasan, Kreulen and Spohrer, 2006; Spohrer, Maglio, Bailey and Gruhl, 2007). It was a bold and perhaps foolish idea to try to create a new science of service, and ten years later it is not yet clear whether we have succeeded. Nevertheless, we would argue that there has certainly been good progress and there are still further avenues to explore and develop. In this chapter, we will review some of this progress and some of these prospects.

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