Guest post by Bart Larivière
Service Intelligence: An Interdisciplinary Team Spirit of Thinking, Learning and Networking
Living in a service-dominated world (Vargo and Lusch 2008), JSR-editor Mary Jo Bitner declares, “it’s a wonderful time to be a service researcher”. Never before have the opportunities for interdisciplinary research been so clear, warranting the need for ‘service intelligence’ that helps both academic and business worldwide. We, the Center for Service Intelligence (CSI) at Ghent University (Belgium), could not agree more.
The CSI ambition is to intertwine academic rigor and managerial relevance by envisioning excellence in Research (Think), Education (Learn), and Seminars & Conferences (Network). Therefore, an integrated approach, bringing together customers (Marketing), employees (Human Resources) and processes (Operations, Service Architecture and IT) embedded in a larger ecosystem, is needed to foster Service Innovations and meet today’s challenges in diverse industries: private, public and social profit, both in developed countries and at the base-of-the-pyramid. The best experience for different stakeholders is the one that achieves the greatest mutual value – or Value Fusion (Larivière et al., 2013) – for all parties being involved. We need to deliver what customers want/need in an effective and cost-efficient way.
Our Center greatly values this interdisciplinary collaboration, bringing together young, motivated scholars with competences in marketing, HRM, operations, innovation, strategy, and service architecture. By doing so, we aim to preach the following:
1. Think Interdisciplinary requires regular discussion. We stimulate this by organizing monthly ‘Happy Friday’-research meetings, inviting international scholars and going on a yearly research sabbatical weekend. These events are all about collaborating and helping each other by giving and receiving feedback, being a source of inspiration and motivation for the others.
2. Learn Interdisciplinary to help advance the field and practice. At CSI publishing is not the only and ultimate goal. Rather, we aim to inspire and help other researchers and business practitioners in resolving some of the issues they are facing. The CSI team engages in the scientific valorization of its work by intensively collaboration with different companies. These do not only co-sponsor our research, but also serve as gatekeepers, guaranteeing the managerial relevance and usability of everything we do. With respect to knowledge dissemination, we consider it equally important to teach our students this ‘lens to view the world’, preparing them for later business life.
3. Network Interdisciplinary. Networking activities founded, empowered and/or organized by CSI target three types of audiences: academicians (e.g., The Belgian Service Research Days), practitioners (e.g., Workshops helping managers of SMEs to innovate and collaborate with customers), and mixed groups where academicians and practitioners come together and meet (e.g., the CSI Service Management Evenings). In particular, we are proud to co-organize this year’s “Let’s Talk About Service Conference” (LTAS) together with Antwerp University and the University of Namur.
The LTAS Conference is a yearly event and is designed to welcome the new generation of service researchers and introduce them to the wonderful world of service research. LTAS focuses on an important topic or methodology by means of an intensive workshop and panel discussions. This year’s theme is “Service Research Positioning”. In two days time, all participants will be plunged into the publication process and will receive valuable input from several experienced faculty members. More information can be found on: www.letstalkaboutservice.org.
In sum, the ambition of the CSI team is to put their stamp on the service world (hence, the CSI Stamp in the logo) in three different ways: Research (Think), Education (Learn), and Seminars & Conferences (Network).
We owe a great debt of gratitude to many inspiring and leading scholars in the service research community. We can never “pay back” all these great minds who have helped us in making who we are and what CSI has become, but we will, however, “pay forward” by contributing to this community as good and as much as possible 😉
Bart Larivière is Assistant Professor of Service Management and Founder of the Center for Service Intelligence at the Ghent University in Belgium www.CenterforServiceIntelligence.org. Furthermore, he is the mentorship officer of SERVSIG.