On 9-11 December 2015, the University of Namur (Belgium) and its research Center for Consumption and Service Research was honored to host the fourth edition of “Let’s Talk about Service” (LTAS), which was organized together with Ghent University’s Center for Service Intelligence and Antwerp University and empowered by SERVSIG.

Santa Claus + organizers_1LTAS aims to introduce young scholars to the wonderful world of service research and provide guidance for their PhD journey or early career. Each year, a workshop on a particular emerging topic is organized, thereby targeting PhD Candidates and Young Faculty.

The central topic of LTAS 2015 was on “Service Research Priorities: How to make them happen?” The choice of this topic was driven by the recent publication of research priorities in the Journal of Service Research (Ostrom et al. 2015).

During a two-day workshop in Namur, we welcomed 30 young scholars from 11 different countries. All these participants were invited to talk about service research with peers and leading scholars in our field.

Service research priorities as Lego bricks!

UntitledOn the first half day of the LTAS-workshop – Prof. Dr. Parsu Parasurman and Prof Dr. Lia Patricio –  two co-authors of the research priorities article, provided examples of illustrative research questions that combined different research topics. By doing so, the two authors encouraged the participants to use the research priorities as Lego bricks, thereby mixing and matching bricks to design a unique and relevant project.

Untitled2.jpegCritical Incident Technique (CIT) Seminar

After the lunch break, we had an intensive workshop on the CIT methodology, that was organized by Prof. Dr. Dwayne Gremler. PhD students were taught the principles of the technique, and by means of hands-on materials they could practice themselves.

Wine-tasting, fireworks, Santa Claus and life music during the conference dinner

As goes with all conferences, networking opportunities are equally important, since they foster friendships and new research collaborations.

It has became a tradition that LTAS offers its participants a surprise networking event. This edition’s event started with wine-tasting inside the cellars of Grafé Lecocq in Namur. Before entering the restaurant where we had a lovely meal, we enjoyed a fireworks spectacle sponsored by IBM. After the dinner, we enjoyed life music and even received gifts from two Santa Claus who may look familiar to you!


2nd Day: “Make it happen”: 6 new research collaborations are born!

After a short night, the second day kicked off at 8 am.

First, Prof. dr. Allard Van Riel explained the format of the workshop based on his experience as co-chair of the Nijmegen Though Leader Conference that resulted in 5 published papers.

Next, Prof. dr. Jay Kandampully talked about three research collaboration teams that spontaneously emerged after previous year’s LTAS workshop.

Untitled5.jpegAfterwards, 6 new groups of researchers started discussing and collaborating on diverse topics that were identified upfront based on applicants’ research proposals and the research priorities identified in the Journal of Service Research. Each group was guided by 2 mentors. We were happy and grateful that eight additional scholars (Arne De Keyser, Dominik Mahr, Katrien Verleye, Linda Nasr, Mirella Kleijnen, Sabine Benoit, Sandra Streukens and Yves Van Vaerenbergh) joined forces with the keynote speakers to develop new research projects with the younger scholars. After a vivid discussion within each team, every group presented the team’s ideas and framework to the other participants.

Here are some first hand impressions from the participants

“Thanks a lot for organizing the amazing LTAS-Workshop. In my entire work life I have never experienced such a warmth, welcoming and supportive atmosphere and never felt so appreciated. I am delighted and the event definitely exceeded my expectations … and as service researchers you know that this is an important objective to have loyal customers :-). hope to see you next year  at LTAS.” Aleksa – Dortmund – Germany ( Ph.D student)
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the wonderful LTAS2015 !  I had a wonderful time and experience and couldn’t be happier seeing you and all the participants ! THANK YOU and I hope to see you soon !” Linda – Manchester – UK ( Mentor)
“Thank you so much for a very special and great LTAS workshop in Namur!” Sarah – Germany ( PH.D student)

In sum, we really enjoyed the LTAS-workshop and hope that the same goes for our participants. A couple of them already ensured us that they’ll come back to LTAS…

Next year, we will celebrate the 5th edition of LTAS, and Fordham University (New York) will host it.

So, already save the dates: December, 8-9, 2016!!!

See below some impressions of the workshop: