The Journal of Service Management is delighted to announce this year’s award winners. Please join us to congratulate the winners of the best paper awards, for their contribution to JOSM and to the service field.

Outstanding Paper of the Year Award

Caic, M., Odekerken-Schroder, G., and Mahr, D. (2018), “Service robots: Value co-creation and co-destruction in elderly care networks”


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the potential roles for service robots (i.e. socially assistive robots) in value networks of elderly care. Taking an elderly person’s perspective, it defines robot roles according to their value co-creating/destroying potential for the elderly user (i.e. focal actor), while acknowledging consequences for a network of users around the elderly (i.e. network actors). This qualitative, interpretative study employs in-depth phenomenographic interviews, supported by generative cards activities (i.e. Contextual Value Network Mapping), to elicit an elderly person’s tacit knowledge and anticipate the effects of introducing an automated actor on institutionalized value co-creation practices. The proposed typology identifies six roles of socially assistive robots in an elderly person’s value network (enabler, intruder, ally, replacement, extended self, and deactivator) and links them to three health-supporting functions by robots: safeguarding, social contact, and cognitive support. Elderly people have notable expectations about the inclusion of a socially assistive robot as a new actor in their value networks. The identified robot roles inform service scholars and managers about both the value co-destruction potential that needs to be avoided through careful designs and the value co-creation potential that should be leveraged.


Highly Commended Papers:
Wirtz, J.,  Patterson, P., Kunz, W., Gruber, T., Nhat Lu, V., Paluch, S., and Martins, A. (2018), “Brave new world: service robots in the frontline”


The service sector is at an inflection point with regard to productivity gains and service industrialization similar to the industrial revolution in manufacturing that started in the eighteenth century. Robotics in combination with rapidly improving technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), mobile, cloud, big data and biometrics will bring opportunities for a wide range of innovations that have the potential to dramatically change service industries. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential role service robots will play in the future and to advance a research agenda for service researchers. This paper uses a conceptual approach that is rooted in the service, robotics and AI literature. The contribution of this paper is threefold. First, it provides a definition of service robots, describes their key attributes, contrasts their features and capabilities with those of frontline employees, and provides an understanding for which types of service tasks robots will dominate and where humans will dominate. Second, this paper examines consumer perceptions, beliefs and behaviors as related to service robots, and advances the service robot acceptance model. Third, it provides an overview of the ethical questions surrounding robot-delivered services at the individual, market and societal level. This paper helps service organizations and their management, service robot innovators, programmers and developers, and policymakers better understand the implications of a ubiquitous deployment of service robots.

Keiningham, T., Rust, R., Lariviere, B., Aksoy, L., and Williams, L. (2017), “A roadmap for driving customer word-of-mouth”


Managers seeking to manage customer word-of-mouth (WOM) behavior need to understand how different attitudinal drivers (e.g. satisfaction, positive and negative emotion, commitment, and self-brand connection) relate to a range of WOM behaviors. They also need to know how the effects of these drivers are moderated by customer characteristics (e.g. gender, age, income, country). The paper aims to discuss these issues. To investigate these issues a built a large-scale multi-national database was created that includes attitudinal drivers, customer characteristics, and a full range of WOM behaviors, involving both the sending and receiving of both positive and negative WOM, with both strong and weak ties. The combination of sending-receiving, positive-negative and strong ties-weak ties results in a typology of eight distinct WOM behaviors. The investigation explores the drivers of those behaviors, and their moderators, using a hierarchical Bayes model in which all WOM behaviors are simultaneously modeled. Among the many important findings uncovered are: the most effective way to drive all positive WOM behaviors is through maximizing affective commitment and positive emotions; minimizing negative emotions and ensuring that customers are satisfied lowers all negative WOM behaviors; all other attitudinal drivers have lower or even mixed effects on the different WOM behaviors; and customer characteristics can have a surprisingly large impact on how attitudes affect different WOM behaviors. These findings have important managerial implications for promotion (which attitudes should be stimulated to produce the desired WOM behavior) and segmentation (how should marketing efforts change, based on segments defined by customer characteristics).

Bolton, R., McColl-Kennedy, J., Cheung, L., Gallan, A., Orsingher, C., Witell, L., and Zaki, M. (2018), “Customer experience challenges: bringing together digital, physical and social realms”


The purpose of this paper is to explore innovations in customer experience at the intersection of the digital, physical and social realms. It explicitly considers experiences involving new technology-enabled services, such as digital twins and automated social presence (i.e. virtual assistants and service robots). Future customer experiences are conceptualized within a three-dimensional space – low to high digital density, low to high physical complexity and low to high social presence – yielding eight octants. The conceptual framework identifies eight “dualities,” or specific challenges connected with integrating digital, physical and social realms that challenge organizations to create superior customer experiences in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets. The eight dualities are opposing strategic options that organizations must reconcile when co-creating customer experiences under different conditions. A review of theory demonstrates that little research has been conducted at the intersection of the digital, physical and social realms. Most studies focus on one realm, with occasional reference to another. This paper suggests an agenda for future research and gives examples of fruitful ways to study connections among the three realms rather than in a single realm. This paper provides guidance for managers in designing and managing customer experiences that the authors believe will need to be addressed by the year 2050. This paper discusses important societal issues, such as individual and societal needs for privacy, security and transparency. It sets out potential avenues for service innovation in these areas.

Fisk, R., Dean, A., Alkire, L., Joubert, A., Previte, J., Robertson, N., and Rosenbaum, M.(2018), “Design for service inclusion: creating inclusive service systems by 2050”


The purpose of this paper is to challenge service researchers to design for service inclusion, with an overall goal of achieving inclusion by 2050. The authors present service inclusion as an egalitarian system that provides customers with fair access to a service, fair treatment during a service and fair opportunity to exit a service. Building on transformative service research, a transformative, human-centered approach to service design is proposed to foster service inclusion and to provide a platform for managerial action. This conceptual study explores the history of service exclusion and examines contemporary demographic trends that suggest the possibility of worsening service exclusion for consumers worldwide. Service inclusion represents a paradigm shift to higher levels of understanding of service systems and their fundamental role in human well-being. The authors argue that focused design for service inclusion is necessary to make service systems more egalitarian. The authors propose four pillars of service inclusion: enabling opportunity, offering choice, relieving suffering and fostering happiness. Service organizations are encouraged to design their offerings in a manner that promotes inclusion and permits customers to realize value.

Outstanding  Reviewers

Alexander Buoye Fordham University, USA.

Daniel Kindstrom Linkoping University, Sweden.

Ahmad Beltagui Aston University, UK