guest article by Thorsten Gruber

In the current UK economy where services contribute to almost 80% of the UK economy relative to manufacturing, we thought there is a real need to develop a research centre which supports both private and public services in a dynamic context. Professor Zoe Radnor and I therefore started the Centre for Service Management (CSM) in October 2013 at Loughborough University.

Untitled CSM engages in applied research and scholarship to support the design, engagement and transformation of service organisations. It especially aims to

  1. Conduct inter- and trans-disciplinary research that matters to the private, public and third-sector service organisations
  2. Provide new knowledge to inform academics and educate managers through the exploration of theory and practice of service management
  3. Pursue collaborative partnerships in the area of service management by leveraging and building on strong national and international links


CSM currently has 11 full members and 13 doctoral researchers  who have a wide range of discipline backgrounds and research expertise,  representing many approaches and paradigms in the study of services.  Members are interested in the following research areas:

  • Emergency Management
  • Health Services
  • Intelligent Mobility (including autonomous vehicles)
  • Lean Management
  • Process and Performance Management
  • Retailing (especially customer experience of town centres)
  • Service Encounters (human-to-human and human-to-machine)
  • Service Entrepreneurship
  • Service Infusion
  • Service Innovation
  • Service Operations Management
  • Strategy Formation and Firm Performance
  • Transformative Service Research
  • Visual Decision Practices

Untitled3CSM currently also has 8 associate members within Loughborough University and almost 50 well-known scholars from around the world are affiliated with CSM as well. Moreover, Professor Bo Edvardsson from CTF- Service Research Center at Karlstad University has been recently awarded the title of Visiting Professor of Service Management. Bo, who is currently Vice Rector of Karlstad University, founded CTF in 1986 and made it one of the leading service research centres worldwide with 60 researchers and doctoral students. It is a great honour to have Bo affiliated with our centre and we are sure he will help us immensely with moving CSM forward!

The official CSM launch event took place on April 3rd 2014 with more than 80 people from the UK and mainland Europe in attendance. Attendees representing private, public and third-sector services, as well as scholars from a range of research fields and disciplines, all contributed to making the launch a great success. Presentations were given by CSM members and by “special guest stars” Professor Dr Gianfranco Walsh (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany: “Retailers’ Lenient Return Policies and Consumer Return Behaviour – Investigating the Role of Online Retailers’ Reputation” and by Professor David Bamford (University of Huddersfield: “Servicescape in Sports”).


Since then, we already had several research seminars (e.g. a seminar on “How to Measure and Improve Academic Impact”) and a research workshop (“Improving Process Improvement: Utilising both Lean and Simulation”). On October 15h 2014, CSM then held the first in a series of thought-provoking seminars featuring speakers from across the discipline of service management. The so-called “Food for Thought” seminar series (attendees bring food and we provide the thoughts) aims to play a leading role in the development of theoretical and critical approaches to service management, and to promote a wider discussion with academics from within the school and beyond.


In the first “Food for Thought” seminar, Professors Christof Backhaus and Markus Blut from Newcastle University discussed autonomy and performance outcomes in services. Inspired by interactional psychology and based mainly on research in work psychology, they proposed that motivational, informational and structural moderators impact the link between autonomy and performance.

For the next year, we are already planning a two days event that would consist of workshops and presentations in the area of health and social care innovation, with a particular focus on patient and user involvement. We plan to invite colleagues from several European countries and colleagues from other schools within Loughborough University to showcase their current projects in this important research area. We are also preparing several research grant applications (e.g. for Horizon 2020), will have many more “Food for Thought” seminars, publish in leading journals, present at conferences around the world, co-create value with service organisations and also offer the first two service modules (at undergraduate and postgraduate level). It looks like 2015 will be even busier than 2014.

Further information about CSM can be found here:

The Centre for Service Management (CSM) wishes everyone a wonderful festive season and a happy, healthy and very successful 2015!



Thorsten Gruber

Chair and Professor of Marketing and Service Management at Loughborough University

Co-Director, Centre for Service Management (CSM)