Impressions and Photos from the 7th “Let’s Talk about Service (LTAS)” – Workshop in Ghent

guest article by Bart Larivière (KU Leuven & EMlyon Business School)

On December 5-7, 2018, the Center for Service Intelligence (CSI) was honored to host the seventh edition of “Let’s Talk about Service” (LTAS) workshop, which was co-organized with Ghent University, KU Leuven, Antwerp University, Fordham University, and University of Namur, and empowered by AMA SERVSIG.

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

During the 7th edition of LTAS workshop in Ghent – which is not only the home town of the Center for Service Intelligence but also a picturesque medieval city, we welcomed 78 participants from 13 different countries. The central theme of LTAS 2018 was “Smart Use of the Extant Literature”.

On the first day of the LTAS-workshop, three scholars across different stages of the academic career path shared their personal experiences regarding the importance and use of literature, and their lessons learned. Bieke Henkens, a starting PhD student, explained how she discovered the multifaceted aspects (e.g., topics, theories, methods, writing styles, reporting of findings, etc.) with respect to the scientific articles she read. Arne De Keyser, an assistant professor who just got tenured, explained how his “literature review as a PhD investment” helped him to continue doing research while starting to do other academic tasks (teaching and service). Mike Brady, full professor and current editor in chief of the Journal of Service Research, explained the importance of literature from an editor’s perspective, thereby also explaining different literature review strategies (domain-based, theory-based, and method-based reviews).

During the rest of the day, two workshops followed. The first one focused on qualitative literature review strategies, while the second one focused on quantitative literature review strategies. During the first workshop, Katrien Verleye and Nicola Bilstein introduced our participants to content analysis, and the usefulness of employing this qualitative approach for dealing with the contents provided in academic papers. Their workshop contained both an explanation of the methodological approach (thereby explaining the difference between a positivism and a social constructionism approach), as well as practical hands-on sessions in which participants had to read and code illustrative papers. In the second workshop, Chiara Orsingher and Yves Van Vaerenbergh explained the goal and the principles of doing meta-analysis, thereby making use of their starter kit and 7-steps approach. Their quantitative workshop also consisted out of a hands-on practical part, in which the participants had to code papers by putting what they learned about meta-analysis methodology into practice.  It was truly wonderful!

After the workshops, it was time to discover Ghent. We enjoyed a boat trip across the canals in the historical city center, accompanied not just by a group of great scholars, but also a glass of cava. When ended the day with a conference dinner at the Foyer in front of the Sint-Bavo’s Cathedral.

On the second day, we had the honor of gaining insights from the editor of Journal of Service Management. Jay Kandampully talked about the human side of service research, by means of nurturing society, connecting the branches, building capacity, being a human with emotions, representing your values, and being the entrepreneur that touches many hearts. Next, Melissa De Regge gave a lecture on conducting systematic literature reviews, thereby providing insights into the different steps to take, and how to craft a literature research string.

Afterwards, we had our coached literature review projects where nine groups of researchers started discussing and collaborating on diverse topics that had been identified upfront based on applicants’ research proposals. Each group was guided by 2 mentors. We were happy and grateful that to our coaches: Mirella Kleijnen, Allard van Riel, Dominik Mahr, Sara Leroi-Werelds, Katrien Verleye, Nicola Bilstein, Sertan Kabadayi, Linda Nasr, Chiara Orsingher, Yves Van Vaerenbergh, Kristina Heinonen, Werner Kunz, Alex Henkel, Sandra Streukens, Arne De Keyser, Simon Hazée, Robert Ciuchita, Thomas Leclercq. Jay Kandampully and Mike Brady served a “flying coaches”, flying from one team to another to provide prompt feedback. After a vivid discussion within each team, every group presented their ideas and framework in front of the other participants, and received feedback.

We ended the LTAS with Belgian beers and Belgian fries.

In sum, we really enjoyed the LTAS-workshop and hope that the same goes for our participants.

Already save the date for next edition: 8th edition of LTAS will be hosted by Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University in New York, December 4-6, 2019

See below some impressions of the workshop here