Guest article by Marek Gnusowski for our Service Centers series.

More than 25 years

The services research team in Poznan (Poland) officially began its work in 1996, when the Department of Services was established at the Poznan University of Economics and Business. In 2012, it was restructured into the Department of Market Research and Services. We are a relatively small team with a total of about 20 faculty members now and throughout our history. Due to changes in the place of the department in the University structure and since some of the fellow service researchers who originated from our department currently work in other departments and institutions, probably the most appropriate term to encapsulate the last 25+ years is the Poznan School of Services. The team is involved in research, undergraduate and graduate education, and organizational activities (conferences), although most of these activities have been conducted for the Polish market. Taking advantage of the fact that the Poznan area is one of the most economically developed regions in Poland, we also collaborate with business practitioners and managers of local service organizations.

Anthropological approach to services

Characteristics of the Poznan School of Services should begin with a reconstruction of the time and place of its birth. This happened only a few years after the transformation of the economic system in Poland. The service sector was among the most neglected parts of the national economies of the communist countries, and neither management nor marketing studies have been developed in Poland back then. As such, geopolitical and cultural conditions exerted a significant influence on the creation of its theoretical foundations. Professor Kazimierz Rogozinski, founder and long-time head of the Department, whose interdisciplinary work has used humanistic, sociological, psychological, and management approaches, has focused primarily on placing the definition of services on an anthropological basis. All Poznan School researchers to this day continue to have this approach, focusing on an in-depth understanding of human perspective through questioning underlying assumptions. For example, instead of discovering new technologies in services, we’d rather have an interest in the consequences of the resulting substitution of human work.  

Three phases of Service Research

Over the past 25+ years, the Poznan School has been conducting research, which can be divided into the following phases:
1) Laying the foundations, for an interdisciplinary theory of services, 
2) Services Marketing and Marketing Management, especially the concepts of Relationship Marketing, Service Quality, and Customer-to-Customer interactions. In this phase, in particular, the Nordic School of Services provided us with great inspiration. 
3) Research on improving Public Service Organizations, especially how to provide sufficient value for all stakeholders. Separate attention was paid to professional services. The department consists of researchers who specialize in research on specific sectors (medical, legal, education, etc.). This allows us to establish extensive collaborations with local practitioners. 

International network

Although in recent years our researchers have been active mainly in Polish, we have tried to be part of an international community as well. We recently edited a special section in the Journal of Services Marketing “Services Marketing Perspectives for Theory and Practice: Focus on Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe and the Post-Soviet States”. We participated in SERVSIG, QUIS, or RESER conferences. We were part of international service research teams applying for grants. We both visited well-recognized service centers abroad for research stays (CERS or CTF just to name a few) and invited service scholars to Poznan (prof. Bo Edvardsson or prof. Kristina Heinonen). We owe a great debt of gratitude to many inspiring and leading scholars in the service research community. At the same time, we are open to international cooperation.
We will also be in Glasgow in June ready to participate in interesting discussions 🙂 

Finally, there is one more important point worth mentioning. Due to recent events in Poland (the reception of an estimated 2.5 million refugees from Ukraine over the last few weeks) we see great potential for the practical application of the Transformative Service Research concept. For the moment we are all focused on providing tangible assistance to refugees, but being in the middle of the action and observing the enormous research potential, we declare our readiness to cooperate with an international team of service researchers, who may be interested in this implementation of TSR. If you would like to engage, please email me.

Marek Gnusowski, Assistant Professor
Department of Market Research and Services
Poznan University of Economics and Business