Marianna Sigala and Chatura Ranaweera, co-editors of the Journal of Service Theory and Practice (JSTP) are very pleased to announce and congratulate the winners of the best paper award, and three highly commended papers, as well as the three best reviewers. We join them in congratulating the winners and recognising their contribution to the service field.

Best Paper Award

Kustrak Korper, A., Holmlid, S. and Patrício, L. (2022), The role of meaning in service innovation: a conceptual exploration

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the concept of meaning as a relevant but missing link in understanding the building blocks of service innovation informed by service-dominant (S-D) logic. In exploring the role of meaning in service innovation, especially related to new value propositions, resource integration and new value cocreation, the authors suggest using the conceptualization of meaning within human-centered design, which has an established body of knowledge on addressing how actors engage and interact.
The paper builds an actionable conceptual framework that relates meaning to central tenets of service innovation, such as resource integration, value propositions and cocreation of value. It delineates the central building blocks of service innovation and conceptually integrates them with meaning to explain the underlying mechanisms of service innovation related both to its development and adoption.
The findings highlight how and why meaning precedes value creation and directs resource integration. Indicating that meaning is driven by experience of earlier interactions it delineates its relationships with new value formation and positions resource interpretation as a driver of this process.
This paper extends the understanding of service innovation in relation to S-D logic, with meaning as a conceptual link to aspects of S-D logic that claim a phenomenological nature. Meaning contributes to S-D logic by providing an understanding of how beneficiaries form intentions to engage in value creation and resource integration. Additionally, by integrating service and design research domains, this paper suggests possibilities for multidisciplinary contributions in future research.

Highly Commended Papers

Dodds, S., Palakshappa, N. and Stangl, L.M. (2022), Sustainability in retail services: a transformative service research (TSR) perspective

Retail organizations that consider a service ecosystems view of sustainability focused on transformation have the potential to contribute to the wellbeing of individuals, business and society. The purpose of this paper is to explore the transformative nature of sustainable retail fashion organizations and their impact on wellbeing within a sustainable retail service ecosystem.
A qualitative in-depth case study research design was implemented using four sustainable fashion brands. Data were collected from multiple sources including secondary data from company websites and publicly available reports and interviews with founders and/or high-ranking managers within the organization.
Three overarching themes critical to transformation in sustainable retail service ecosystems were identified: (1) embedded core purpose or ethos, (2) relevance of fit and (3) breadth and depth of message. Corresponding wellbeing elements were found within the three themes – community and society wellbeing, environmental wellbeing, business strategy wellbeing, consumer wellbeing, leadership wellbeing, employee wellbeing, stakeholder and value chain wellbeing and brand wellbeing.
Future research offers an important opportunity to further explore the relationships between sustainability, TSR and wellbeing in other service contexts.
The paper contributes to transformative service research literature by conceptualizing a sustainable retail service wellbeing ecosystem framework.

Dodds, S., Russell–Bennett, R., Chen, T., Oertzen, A.-S., Salvador-Carulla, L. and Hung, Y.-C. (2022), Blended human-technology service realities in healthcare

The healthcare sector is experiencing a major paradigm shift toward a people-centered approach. The key issue with transitioning to a people-centered approach is a lack of understanding of the ever-increasing role of technology in blended human-technology healthcare interactions and the impacts on healthcare actors’ well-being. The purpose of the paper is to identify the key mechanisms and influencing factors through which blended service realities affect engaged actors’ well-being in a healthcare context.
This conceptual paper takes a human-centric perspective and a value co-creation lens and uses theory synthesis and adaptation to investigate blended human-technology service realities in healthcare services.
The authors conceptualize three blended human-technology service realities – human-dominant, balanced and technology-dominant – and identify two key mechanisms – shared control and emotional-social and cognitive complexity – and three influencing factors – meaningful human-technology experiences, agency and DART (dialogue, access, risk, transparency) – that affect the well-being outcome of engaged actors in these blended human-technology service realities.
Managerially, the framework provides a useful tool for the design and management of blended human-technology realities. The paper explains how healthcare services should pay attention to management and interventions of different services realities and their impact on engaged actors. Blended human-technology reality examples – telehealth, virtual reality (VR) and service robots in healthcare – are used to support and contextualize the study’s conceptual work. A future research agenda is provided.
This study contributes to service literature by developing a new conceptual framework that underpins the mechanisms and factors that influence the relationships between blended human-technology service realities and engaged actors’ well-being.

Best Reviewers

Simon Hazée, Université Catholique de Louvain
Liliana Bove, University of Melbourne
Julia Fehrer, University of Auckland

Previous JSTP Awards
– 2016
– 2017
– 2018
– 2019