CTF blog: Service Ecosystem Design – A New Chapter in Service Design Research2020-09-18
Read our latest CTF blog, by Kaisa Koskela-Huotari and Josina Vink.
The understanding of service design has been gradually extended over the past 35 years. Over these decades, there has been a shift from thinking about service design as an expert-driven process focused on developing new service concepts to service design as a process of co-design that creates the conditions for value-in-use. Service ecosystem design opens up a new chapter in this ongoing evolution by offering a systemic understanding of service design that can inform researchers and practitioners as they navigate the complexities of catalyzing change in service systems.
Service ecosystem design is grounded on four core propositions that extend the understanding of the purpose, materials, processes and actors of service design:
1. The purpose of service ecosystem design is to facilitate the emergence of desired forms of value cocreation. As such, this understanding highlights the emergent, unpredictable nature of service design outcomes.
2. Service ecosystem design considers institutional arrangements—assemblages of enduring rules, norms, and beliefs—and their physical enactments, as the central materials of service design. In other words, service ecosystem design occurs through the shaping of not only the physical enactments but also the inseparable, invisible institutional arrangements enabling and constraining value cocreation.
3. Service ecosystem design identifies two core design processes—reflexivity, an awareness of existing institutional arrangements, and reformation, intentionally shaping institutional arrangements—which are embedded within the ongoing reproduction of service ecosystems. This means that service ecosystem design acknowledges that all service design activities are always influenced by the very same institutional arrangements that actors try to shape.
4. Service ecosystem design recognizes the agency of all actors in an ongoing process of collective designing and highlights that the focal design efforts are always influenced by multiple aligned and conflicting design and non-design processes.
In comparison to the prior views of service design, which for the most part ignore the institutional arrangements and other interdependencies that influence design efforts within multi-actor service systems, service ecosystem design embraces these aspects and attends to the embedded and collective nature of service design. As such, service ecosystem design offers an inclusive conceptual basis on which the evolution toward a systemic understanding of service design can continue with greater clarity and a common language. Building on this understanding, research and practice related to service ecosystem design has the potential to bring forth a new wave of more systemic service design methods and approaches that support actors to work more intentionally with institutional arrangements, acknowledge related design and non-design processes, and build collective alignment around desired value cocreation forms.
Assistant Professor in Business Administration
Associate Professor in the Institute of Design at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) in Norway.
For further reading:
“Service Ecosystem Design: Propositions, Process Model, and Future Research Agenda” by Josina Vink, Kaisa Koskela-Huotari, Bård Tronvoll, Bo Edvardsson and Katarina Wetter-Edman published in Journal of Service Research.
The article builds on Josina Vink’s dissertation “Service Ecosystem Design: Propositions, Process Model, and Future Research Agenda” “In/visible - Conceptualizing Service Ecosystem Design” that won the 2020 SERVSIG Best Dissertation Award.