CTF blog: Reflections and key takeaways from QUIS162019-06-25
In the latest CTF blog, Dr. Kaisa Koskela-Huotari shares her reflections and key takeaways from the international symposium QUIS16, held June 10-13 at Karlstad University.
Two weeks have passed since the closing of QUIS16, and the streets of Karlstad have emptied of our international conference participants. This year’s QUIS conference, co-chaired by Bo Edvardsson, Mary Jo Bitner, Rohit Verma, and Anders Gustafsson, was dedicated to celebrating the founders of the service research field. It was extremely inspiring to hear such vivid stories from the scholars who have been influential in shaping the field. As a junior scholar in the field, it was good to be reminded that service has not always been a desirable subject of research and that the pioneering scholars really had to fight and be persistent in their passion to study many of the topics that are nowadays taken-for-granted in the field. On behalf of all the conference participants, I would like to extend my warmest thank you to: Bo Edvardsson, Christian Grönroos, David Bowen, Evert Gummesson, Larry Crosby, Leonard Berry, Mary Jo Bitner, Parsu Parasuraman, Raymond Fisk, Rod Brodie, Ruth Bolton, Stephen Brown, Steve Vargo and Valarie Zeithaml for sharing with us the stories of how we got here as well as your visions for the future of the field. I would also like to say special thank you to Ingrid Hansson for organizing such a wonderful conference for us to meet and share our ideas.
My three takeaways from QUIS16
1. Service is more pervasive than ever
From many of the plenary talks and conference presentations, it was clear that never has there been more need for service research, regardless of whether scholars are studying service as a context or service as a perspective. With the current pace of technological advancement, we can only expect to see increasing changes in the ways we (either directly or via technology) serve one another. It is important that we keep up with all such developments and constantly rethink the nature of service provision and its implications, also beyond the firm-customer dyad.
2. The past conditions, but does not determine the future
In the service field, we are lucky to stand on the shoulders of so many amazing scholars whose pioneering spirit has enabled us to become the flourishing field that we currently are. It is important to keep up the same spirit as we head towards new research frontiers. At the same time, we need to be reflexive and acknowledge the fact that service research has traditionally been focused rather narrowly toward guiding managers in their efforts to ensure the survival of their firm. As the field begins to embrace the concerns of alternative stakeholders and wider societal issues, it is important that we take a step back and evaluate how this (often unintentional) tendency toward a managerial focus is manifesting itself in the models and frameworks used to understand service-related phenomena. We must also ask ourselves the questions, “Who do I think should win the service game?” and “What does the answer to the former question mean in terms of the kind of research I am doing?”. I am sure the answers to these questions will not be the same for all of us and, for that reason, ongoing discussion around these important questions and their implications is needed as we jointly pursue new research frontiers.
3. Finding meaning in doing good
Following the wise words of David Bowen, to initiate any large-scale transformation, there needs to be a shared sense of urgency. I felt that such a common sense of urgency was emerging in QUIS16 in terms of acknowledging the responsibility of the service research field in addressing pressing societal and environmental concerns. In addition to these themes being mentioned in the plenaries, many of the conference sessions had a focus on wellbeing, transformative service research and healthcare. Also, all the service journals and their editors showed strong interest and support for papers investigating these themes. Now, it is up to each one of us to do something about this, while simultaneously bearing in mind that what is good for one might not necessarily be that for another. So, as we aim for creating a better world for the future, we must also investigate what better means for different stakeholders and how can we collaboratively improve the wellbeing of many. As a field with a long history in studying perceived value and value (co)creation, we should be uniquely positioned to solve at least some of these questions. I was also very happy to see so many doctoral students and early-career researchers passionate about addressing significant societal challenges with their work. With the help and guidance of the senior scholars in the field, we should be able to achieve significant results with our goal of contributing to the broader wellbeing of the society.
Finally, it is always uplifting to see so many service scholars make their way into Karlstad—this small Swedish town situated in the deep forest between Stockholm and Oslo, as Evert Gummesson would say. I hope your trip was worthwhile and that we will see you in Karlstad and at CTF, Service Research Center soon again.
See you in Seoul 2021!
Assistant Professor in Business Administration at Karlstad Business School and
CTF, Service Research Center at Karlstad University.