CTF’s efforts to develop groundbreaking theoretical knowledge has resulted in multidisciplinary research themes: Service Innovation, Service Management, and Service Experience. Based on these themes CTF is now developing a crosscutting theme on Transformative Service Research, TSR. It is a relatively new field in service research and is increasingly getting more attention in academia. The new focus on TSR takes place within the framework of the Excellence initiative that was granted to CTF last year from Karlstad University.
Transformative Service Research, TSR, aims to improve well-being for individuals and communities. Is TSR different in that respect from traditional service research?
You could say that traditionally service research has mainly been management-oriented and mostly contributed to developing models and theories aimed at improving management, primarily in businesses. TSR is first of all geared towards improving the well-being of other stakeholders, such as employees and customers, and other types of institutions such as public organizations, volunteer organizations and social movements, says Per Skålén, Professor in Business Administration at CTF.
CTF has actually a long history of studying TSR-related issues since transformation and change processes always have been central issues. Apart from management, other perspectives have also been important, for example research in working life science where dignity and aesthetic skills have been used as perspectives to problematize the employee’s working situation. The researchers within the network Academy for Citizen Centered Government Services have during the last ten years focused on government agencies out of the service perspective. Much of the public transport research conducted in Samot, The Service and Market Oriented Transport Research Group, has also focused on public organizations. Other examples of research are on customers who behave badly towards staff in service encounters, including violence and verbal harassment, and corporate responsibility. The difference now is that CTF has a collected and conscious focus which will contribute to giving TSR both force and weight.
The new focus on TSR has already paid off. Professor Per Skålén, together with Ph.D. student Kotaiba Abdul-Aal and Professor Bo Edvardsson, have an article accepted in the first special issue of TSR, which will be published by the Journal of Service Research in the spring of 2015. The title of the article is “Co-creating the Arab Spring: Transformation of service systems in contention” and describes how activists during the Arab spring established service systems to co-create value on a democratic basis. The article studies thus a social movement and its attempts to improve conditions for people that has lived under oppression for generations through co-creation of value that is not out of economic-, but cultural and social value. In this way the article is a typical expression of TSR research even if it might not be a typical expression of traditional service research.
The TSR initiative takes place within the framework of the Excellence funding that CTF was granted by Karlstad University. The main idea of the application is to “put an edge” to CTFs existing research themes, service management, service innovation and service experiences by adding TSR.
CTF, Service Research Center at Karlstad University, is one of the world´s leading research centers focusing on service management and value creation through service. Established in 1986, CTF now has 60 researchers and doctoral students who are variously involved in business administration, working life science, sociology, psychology, computer science and sociology of religion. CTF is involved in research, undergraduate and graduate education, and in collaboration with companies and other organizations in various areas on managing service. Please visit ctf.kau.se for more information.
Per Skålén is a Professor of Business Administration and responsible for Service Organizations & Employment Relations at the CTF