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The Handbook of Service Industries

Edited by John R. Bryson and Peter W. Daniels

Service activities are now acknowledged as key players in economic development, societal change and public policy worldwide. This exciting Handbook not only contributes to ongoing conceptual debates about the nature of service-led economies and societies; it also pushes back the frontiers of current critical thinking about the role of service activities in urban and regional development and the important research agendas that remain to be addressed.
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Chapter 3: Services and Innovation: Conceptual and Theoretical Perspectives

Jeremy Howells


Jeremy Howells* Introduction The study of services and innovation remains a neglected area of study. Compared with the study of innovation in the manufacturing realm, the corpus of researchers in services interested in innovation remains small and fragmented, albeit they are experiencing steady growth. Why should this be so? Obviously much depends on history. Innovation in services was largely ignored, in large part because of the artefact, embodied and manufacturingbased paradigms that have remained dominant in innovation studies up until the present day. However, this begs the question of why it has taken so long for new conceptual frameworks to emerge in service innovation. There are four factors which are presented as being involved in this lag, which also relate more widely to the study of services, but have had a particular impact on service innovation research. First, and most obviously, is that the study of services overall remains a neglected area of research. This is despite the constant refrain by researchers working on services that services make up such a large segment of economic activity within industrialised economies. And this is not a new position (although its relative size is). Even by the early twentieth century, service activity was such a size and significance economically in parts of Europe and North America that it made up something like a quarter to a third of gross domestic product (GDP) in countries in these two continents. It is therefore strange how little active study of the sector was undertaken even...

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