Levent Altinay from the Oxford School of Hospitality Management has been appointed as new Editor in Chief for The Service Industries Journal. The Service Industries Journal, an international journal of service management, serves to improve our knowledge of the services sector, service firms and the effective management of these firms. This multidisciplinary journal was established in 1981 as the first academic peer reviewed journal in the world devoted to the services sector and service management. Since this time it has established a first class international reputation for quality knowledge. This interview with Levent Altinay was conducted by Linda Nasr.

Can you please tell our readers a bit more about yourself?

I was born and raised in Cyprus, studying my first degree in Business Management in Turkey. I then completed both my MSc and PhD (with scholarship) degrees at Oxford Brookes University.  I have also worked for the banking industry in Cyprus where I gained experience in financial management/customer relationship management.

I am now Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Research Lead at Oxford Brookes Business School. My research interests lie in the areas of entrepreneurship, strategic alliances and international business. Using primarily qualitative methods as well as mixed methods, I am particularly interested in how entrepreneurs start up and develop their businesses and how firms establish partnerships internationally. My work has been published in various internationally recognized journals including Journal of Business Research, International Small Business Journal, Journal of Small Business Management, Journal of Services Marketing and the Service Industries Journals.

In addition to my UK role, I am visiting Professor at the University of Cagliari, Italy; Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey and the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Astana, Kazakhstan. I was a member of the Business & Economics Panel in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2014 in Hong Kong. I sit on the editorial boards of more than 12 journals; notably I am the Associate Editor, Europe, for the Journal of Service Theory and Practice (JSTP) and also for the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

I have been invited to give several keynote presentations and seminars across the world, and I have chaired/co-chaired six international conferences, the latest of which is on the Silk Road and the Service Industries. In addition to peer-reviewed publications, I am the co-author of research methods, strategic management and entrepreneurship textbooks now at the core of tourism and hospitality curricula internationally.

My strong record attracting blue chip external funding, includes awards from the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), the British Academy as well as funding from Hong Kong Polytechnic University for international collaborative projects. My ESRC funded project aimed to investigate how entrepreneurs’ socio-cultural backgrounds influence the entrepreneurial orientation of firms and how this in turn influences firm growth. This study was conducted with particular reference to Turkish and Chinese small firms in London, operating in a variety of sectors including manufacturing, retailing and catering. Different stakeholder groups, including the Association of Community Based Advisors have taken the findings of the project on board and started to develop more effective training programmes for ethnic small businesses.

What attracted you to marketing/service research as a discipline of study?

The core principles of service attracted me to the field; human dimension, experience, satisfaction of consumers and nowadays increasingly the role and contribution of marketing/service to the wellbeing and quality of life of individuals.

We can collectively advance marketing/service research in these areas but also produce meaningful and impactful research that would be of value to customers, organisations and the community in general.

What current trends in marketing/service research do you find fascinating?

I strongly believe in the need for marketing/service researchers to take a proactive approach to setting a research agenda that addresses social, economic, environmental, technological and political problems. In particular I am interested in high impact research focusing on the quality of lives of the elderly and refugee populations. I also think that we should be taking a more responsible approach to researching healthy living and healthy consumption helping both consumers and organisations in addressing the issue of a ‘healthy life’. Moreover, ‘The Silk Road’ and related developments are worth considering by marketing/service researchers as I believe that there is still room to understand the behaviors of consumers and practices of organisations in countries such as China, India, Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan.

Marketing/service research could be more social science informed and more methodologically innovative in order to be able to tackle those issues mentioned above.

How do you envision the future of our service research field?

The current global political, economic, technological and political developments require us to take a more visionary and broader approach to our service research. Service research can adopt a more responsible approach to advancing our understanding of service transactions through undertaking more social science informed studies and investigating topics of social, economic, political and technological importance.

In order to be able to do this successfully, we will need to work closely more with researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds, including sociology, psychology, economics, law, geography and even engineering and technology.. As part of advancing this approach, there is a need to provide more social science informed research training to our PhD research students as well as more innovative and meaningful and impactful service research projects.

FSIJTell us about the history of the Journal. What is your vision for the Service Industries Journal as new Editor in Chief?

The Service Industries Journal publishes research that contributes to the development of theory in the areas of management, marketing, human resources, operations management, entrepreneurship, innovation, and financial management; all aim to support best practices in services. We seek to attract papers from researchers whose studies are informed by social sciences such as sociology, psychology, economics, law and politics. Contributions are especially welcomed from around the globe addressing contemporary social, economic, political and environmental issues.

What are the major Structural Changes and Appointments made under your leadership?

I have appointed Professor Dr. M. Joseph Sirgy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech), USA; Professor Dr.  Muzaffer Uysal, Isenberg School of Management, UMassAmherst, USA and Professor Dr Gary Akehurst, Aberystwyth University, UK as the journal Strategy Editors to play an advisory role in the development of the journal’s strategy.

Two Regional Editors for Each Region –  the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific and Australia – have been appointed with a more proactive role of identifying and inviting ‘cutting edge’ and ‘innovative’ research submissions to the journal.

Two Methodology Editors have been appointed to help with the initial manuscript screening.

One Chinese Language Editor has been appointed to offer support and assistance with the translation of the abstracts of accepted papers in Mandarin Chinese. We have created the processes and systems that would enable us to publish at a minimum the abstracts of the articles in Mandarin Chinese to reach out to researchers and practitioners in China—a wide audience in an emerging economy.

The Journal seeks to attract papers from researchers whose studies are informed by social sciences such as sociology, economics, law, politics, sociology, psychology. Therefore, I am expanding the editorial board to reflect interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspectives. I welcome nominations.

What kind of topics/areas will the journal be mainly attracting and interested in publishing?

We would like to publish research that contributes to the development of theory in the areas of management, marketing, human resources, operations management, entrepreneurship, innovation, and financial management, resulting in best practice in services.

We will encourage more social science informed submissions while maintaining a management focus. Such an approach would both enhance the rigour and innovativeness of services management research and still offer value and relevance to services practitioners. We therefore seek to attract papers from researchers whose studies are informed by areas such as sociology, psychology, economics, law and politics, the purpose being advancement of knowledge in the area of services management through social science informed research.

We will also publish special issues that will help the journal to direct a global research agenda and provide authors the opportunity to influence practice globally. These special issues will be edited by internationally recognised academics in different services management areas related to the contemporary and important issues of our time (e.g., social wellbeing in service management; refugee crisis and the service sector; informal economy and services; Silk Road and the service industry; climate change and the service industry; peace through service industries; role of social media in the service industry). You can find some of the special issues below:

List three key words which you would associate with the journal.

Service, Social Science Informed Research, Impactful and meaningful research for service practice and policy.

If you had not gone into marketing/academia, what would have been your alternative career?

I would have been a social entrepreneur tackling poverty globally. I would be very much interested in helping children who suffer from wars in different parts of the world.

What about you surprises new students and/or colleagues?

I guess my humble and modest attitudes towards individuals and life surprise them most. I can interact and relate to people with different backgrounds and try to put myself in their shoes in order to be able to understand them and learn from them regardless of their age, ethnicity, profession, culture and backgrounds. For example, as part of my current research project investigating the role of small hospitality businesses in tackling loneliness among the elderly and enhancing the quality of their lives, I have been interviewing, interacting and listening to senior citizens. I gain their trust, make them feel confident and convince them that whatever they share has value and relevance and will be of use for their own, business’, students’ and the community’s benefit. It is a wonderful, rewarding experience….

Whilst I am a Professor dedicated to producing academically rigorous research, I am still inspired by the people at the heart of your projects, and maintain a passion for fieldwork. I have the highest respect for your research participants and truly value their contributions.

What is your go to relax after a challenging day or at the end of a challenging project?

I exercise on regular basis. I start the day with 45 minutes-1 hour jogging/running. Every evening I also go for a walk after dinner; it is good mental and physical exercise. I can reflect on the day and think things through during my walk. Oxford City, UK is the ideal place for mental and physical exercise.

What are your future conference participation plans? Would you be participating in “meet the editors” event?

I will be attending different service and marketing conferences including those in New York, USA; Zaragoza, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal.

The most important project of mine for the next year is “The Silk Road and The Service Industries” Conference to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This will be hosted in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Bang College of Business, KIMEP University (Kazakhstan) and other partner institutions.