In/visible - Conceptualizing Service Ecosystem Design

Sammanfattning: This thesis explores and advances the evolving understanding of service design in service research. The study problematizes the prevailing view of service design as the design of service offerings to improve customer experiences. My work shows that this popular narrative does not adequately account for the situated struggles of actors when doing service design. As such, a more processual, embedded, systemic, and embodied perspective of service design is needed. In response, this thesis draws from the service ecosystems perspective of service-dominant logic, integrating insights from institutional theory, systems theory and design theory, to examine service design from an alternative perspective. This inquiry is supported through empirical inputs from a para-ethnographic study of Experio Lab in Sweden, a qualitative analysis of service design methods, and ‘research through design’ experiments. Through systematically combining these empirical and theoretical inputs, this work challenges the underlying assumptions about service design. Based on the development of alternative assumptions, this thesis builds an extended understanding of service design that unabashedly situates actors and their bodies within the dynamic service ecosystems they seek to design. Through this study, I formulate an extended understanding of service design that is referred to as service ecosystem design. Service ecosystem design is defined as the intentional and collective shaping of social structures, and their physical enactments, in order to facilitate the emergence of cocreated value-in-context. This thesis presents a process model for service ecosystem design that reframes service design from an iterative, linear, and phased process, to an embedded and ongoing feedback loop. This feedback loop involves the processes of reflexivity, through which actors build awareness of existing social structures, and reformation, through which actors’ intentionally reshape social structures toward preferred value cocreation configurations. Based on this alternative view of service design, this research offers a set of design principles and experimental approaches to help practitioners acknowledge and leverage the situated nature of their practice. By extending the understanding of service design, this thesis has implications for broader conversations about design, service, and systems change, and provides a foundation for future research at this intersection.

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