This chapter develops a research agenda for the examination of service and social innovations: innovations that concern complex social issues and usually result in new or improved services. The chapter starts with a summary of the interlinkages between service innovation and social innovation based on a brief review of the existing studies. The main part of the chapter identifies topics for future research. It highlights the perspective of social innovation, which is less established compared to service innovation, but crucial for answering the problems of equality and sustainability in today’s society. Research needs are identified in two sections: deepening the insights on the nature of social innovation at the macro (societal), meso (institutional) and micro (organisational) level, and developing governance structures and innovation policies (‘revitalisation’ of the innovation system approach, support to citizen empowerment and societal embedding, renewal of the public sector and public–private innovation networks, versatile use of digitalisation).
This chapter discusses four central perspectives to service innovation: managing innovation processes, taking a strategic stance to innovation, promoting user-based and employee-driven innovation, and answering the need for systemic innovations. The chapter shows that Jon Sundbo has contributed in a notable way to research in all these areas. He has introduced the idea of balanced empowerment to emphasize the importance of strategy in the inducement and control of innovation activities. His framework of strategic reflexivity focuses on the top-down processes that integrate distributed novelties. On the other hand, customer encounter–based innovation supplements the picture by analysing the bottom-up processes in which grassroots employees transmit users’ ideas into the organization. The concept of after-innovation points out that the active role of users also continues after the launch. At the broader societal level, Sundbo has participated in the discussion about the systemic nature of innovations by analysing value chain innovations.