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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 18: Services and the Internet

Andrew Murphy


Andrew Murphy Introduction In 10 years the internet1 has grown from the preserve of geeks and guns, of selected American universities and defence researchers, to a mass communication and consumption system. How did this happen, and how were and are services implicated in this? This chapter explores how services were instrumental in the growth and maintenance of the internet and e-commerce as we know it today, and were themselves transformed by it. It considers which service industries are most at risk of substantial change triggered by or enacted through the internet, and those which may be relatively immune, and which service industries are at the forefront in promulgating these very changes. The meteoric rise and apparent ubiquity2 of the internet and electronic commerce lead to some interesting questions about the interplay of technology, service provision, and our understanding of how ‘the economy’ is constructed and operates. Can an e-commerce transaction be conceived as a service if there is no direct human involvement?3 Does e-commerce herald a new form of economic organisation, a ‘new economy’ (Beyers, 2002b; Christensen and Maskell, 2003; Daniels, 2003); or does it build upon and rely on pre-existing catalogue, telephonic or televisual-based transaction systems (such as the Sears catalogue, ATMs (automated teller machines) and shopping channels)? This chapter does not endeavour to provide final answers to these questions. It seeks to address them through the organising framework of the notion of ‘disruptive innovation’: a change in technological capabilities and attributes that undermines the basis upon which...

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