This report was presented at the 2015 Reser conference in Copenhagen (Denmark)
Council members: Alexander Schletz (Fraunhofer IAO, Stuttgart); Brita Hermelin (Linköping University), Céline Merlin Brogniard (University of Lille), Gisela di Meglio (Universidad Complutense de Madrid); José Luis Navarro-Espigares (University of Granada), Laurentiu Tachiciu (Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest), Maria Savona (SPRU, UK), Marie Christine Monnoyer (Université de Toulouse Capitole), Markus Scheuer (RWI Essen), Patrik Ström (University of Gothenburg, President), Pedro Costa (University Institute of Lisbon), Risto Rajala (Aalto University), Lars Fuglsang (Roskilde University, organizer of 2015 conference)
1. GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE RESER COUNCIL WORK
Council meetings and communication with members
In the last twelve months Council has worked intensively on a number of activities, as predicted, and communication between Council members was frequent. Four tele-meetings of the Council (phone-meetings, in October, January, May and June) and two face-to-face meetings (Brussels, in February, and Copenhagen, just before the annual conference) were carried out in the period. February face to face meeting between the two annual conferences continues to be very important, as it helps the Council to discuss strategic issues and not only to manage its regular activities. As in the past, the Council members should make use of national research representative offices in Brussels to secure free of charge meeting place.
The Council has informed the RESER members about its activities via the website and the minutes. Mailing lists and databases were updated again this year, and most information flows were restricted just to associates with their association fees regularized. A digest version of minutes is regularly updated on the website, while more comprehensive versions are sent periodically to registered members. RESER website has been assumed as the main repository of information of RESER and its main channel of circulation of information amongst members and with broader services research community. Consequently it has been very actively updated, and used as main communication tool to members (in parallel to other resources such as mailing lists and digital social media). More active response of RESER members and their provision of relevant news to feed the website are very welcome and would benefit all members.
In September 2015 the RESER was composed of 177 individual members and 4 institutional members. In 2015, Mondragon Innovation and Knowledge (from Basque Country, Spain), joined Fraunhofer IAO (from Germany), VTT Technical Research Centre (from Finland), and CRISP Centro di Ricerca Interuniversitario sui Servizi di Pubblica Utilità alla Persona (from Italy), as the forth RESER institutional member.
2. HELSINKI RESER 2014 CONFERENCE
The Council actively supported the Helsinki 2014 conference organisers in planning the activities related to the conference, on the theme “Services and new societal challenges: innovation for sustainable growth and welfare” and on the post-conference work. Marja Toivonen and all the organizing team did an excellent job that made possible the success of the organization of this 24th RESER annual conference. A brief balance on the Helsinki Conference and on the PhD Colloquium was made between council members and the organizers, and lessons were extracted and transmitted to the organizers of 2015 editions.
It was possible to publish the proceedings of the conference quickly after the conference; including all the authors which wanted to do so. Several papers were submitted to publication in several journals (EGS, JIE), including the organization of a sponsored special issue of TIMR and a special dossier on SS.
3. RESER COUNCIL PRIORITIES FOR 2014/15
In line with recommendations at the GA in Helsinki the Council has identified the following priority actions that were carried out in 2014-15:
a) Collaboration with the organization of the 2015 annual conference, in Copenhagen.
The council actively collaborated with Lars Fuglsang and the Roskilde University organizing team of 2015 RESER conference, on the theme “Service development and innovation for prosperity and human well-being in the 21st century”, which occurs at Eigtveds Pakhus, Copenhagen.
The council was involved in the suggestion of keynote speakers and thematic sessions, as well in the support to the organization of practical issues, both related to the conference itself and the publishing opportunities after it. The relation with practice and the promotion of conversation between practitioners and researchers was assumed as one of the priorities of the conference (including several moment of discussion and a keynote speech).
As in precedent years, RESER council and the organization of the conference worked together in order to assume the conference a special floor to increase the cooperation strategy with other institutions and services networks, and to increase the visibility of RESER.
In this sense, it was possible to have again a REDLAS special session/track, centred on the issue of services in Latin America and developing countries. As it was difficult to have direct support from the organization of the conference this year due to financil constraints, improved support was given by RESER council to this (doubling funding support), in order to enable and enhance participation from REDLAS members in Copenhagen conference.
Two grants (2 RESER founders award for best paper) for supporting PhD students (500+300 euros) were available for the conference, as in precedent year. This includes the participants in the Docoral Coloquium, which took place in parallel with the conference. Papers with just one author (the student, without the superviser) were elegible. A small sellection committee composed by 3 council members analysed the proposals and the annoucement of the winners is made at the conference dinner.
RESER lifetime award was not attributed this year, as it is now atributed on a biannual basis. Next edition will be next year and the prize will be awarded in 2016 conference.
b) PhD Colloquium, at Roskilde University
The council has also actively collaborated with Risto Rajala and the organizing team of the PhD colloquium, held in parallel to the conference. PhD Course was designed to take place on the premises of Roskilde University, during the days immediately precedent to the conference. A permanent discussion on the model, schedule and related funding issues about the PhD Colloquium was held throughout the year, as several contingencies were occurring. After Helsinki’s experience some lessons were extracted, including the need for the downsizing of keynote speakers’ expenses and other organization issues, unless sustainable funding resources could be found or provided by local organizers. The council found important that the PhD colloquium should keep the characteristic of having no fees for the participants. Council decided to support this year’s organization with an amount of 1000 Euros in order to cover some small expenses (coffee breaks, etc). After an ongoing monitoring of the level of demand of the course, an analysis was made defining a reasonable minimum number of participants in order to keep financial equilibrium and a pedagogical and scientific level of quality, essential to attract the students in the long term (assuming a minimum number of 10 students for the realization of the colloquium). The discussion on this will be followed for further editions, considering such number is also important to improve the number of participants in the conference, each year.
Finally, a one day PhD Colloquium was defined to occur in the day before the conference. Essentially, it is centred on the discussion of students’ papers, providing for the participants the possibility of having feedback on their work by more experienced services researchers, which are participating on the conference and linked to local organizers at Roskilde University.
c) Publications and relation with SIJ
In the sequence of Helsinki GA discussion, the decision of discontinuing the relation with SIJ was taken and the Council was mandated to promote a task force to develop a new publication strategy.
The development of alternatives, include trying to find a pallet of 3-4 journals in different disciplines, different countries (Anglo-Saxon, French, Latin America), different knowledge areas, in the scope of RESER interests, which would be open to accept special issues, not necessarily in an annual basis, or the publication of a RESER book series with a stablished international publisher, for instance, were discussed. The several ideas brought up by diverse members in the GA (e.g. linking conference sessions/tracks to specific publications; flexibility of partnerships through the years, through sporadic collaborations, including SIJ also; valorization of RESER brand in publishing mechanisms, etc.) were taken in consideration on this debate, which was being developed through the year on the diverse council meetings.
The opportunity of having a pre-selection of papers in each conference, around specific thematic lines by conference organizers or other members (such as being done already for EGS or JIE, or for SS in Helsinki) would be interesting to be explored, even if on an occasional basis, for specific themes or episodic special editions. Collaboration of all RESER members would be appreciated on this. The link to the RESER brand (by the authors themselves, and by those special editions), could be further explored, as well as the possibility of linking the journals at the webpage, provide information in RESER’s webpage, and enhancing a symbiotic relation in terms of visibility for each part. There is also the possibility of having special issues (more or less related to the conferences) launched by RESER members in different Journals (as individual researchers, more than RESER as organization), in parallel to a more comprehensive approach to each conference (for instance, in a book format). The two approaches could be complementary: the book as a continuation of precedent strategy (providing long term RESER publication as brand), and special issues in exploring new opportunities and specific sub-fields. The book can be crucial to keep the importance of cross disciplinary research that marks RESER. Some specific aspects on this strategy can be highlighted for the moment:
- Publishing of Helsinki papers
Several papers of Helsinki conference are/were under selection and publication process in several journals, in articulation with conference organization and RESER council (apart from other individual initiatives of publication in other journal, naturally): (i) 7 papers from last conference were selected for being under refereeing process for EGS journal; (ii) 5 papers were under the same process in JIE (Journal of Inspiration Economy); (iii) a special issue from Technology Innovation Management Review (TIMR) was published on February 15 (including a sponsored big add to next RESER conference); and (iv) 6 papers from RESER conference are on the refereeing process for a Service Science (SS) special issue, on social innovation issues.
- Possibility of publishing of Copenhagen papers
It was asked for these journals if after Copenhagen we will keep the same kind of relation with these journals and in some cases (EGS and JIE) it was confirmed that it is expected so. In other cases (TIMR) there is a possibly to negotiate, but there is the problem with the publication fee (5000 euros) required by the publishers.
- Publication of proceedings/ and availability on RESER webpage.
Helsinki proceedings are already on line on the conference webpage (authorization was asked to the authors of the papers); the same will be done in Copenhagen. Then, they will be available at RESER website, as soon as possible.
- Relation with SIJ
PS talked with Eileen Bridges, communicating the decisions of last GA, and discontinuing the traditional relation with this journal, while keeping the door opened to episodic collaboration on other formats. Some RESER members have been contacted to stay at the editorial board of the journal, which can be an window open to rethink the maintenance of some privileged relation with this journal.
Regarding the two last RESER special issues, the news is not clarifying: the thematic special issue from Bucharest Conference didn’t come out and it will not happen. Some papers were accepted, other rejected, but the ones accepted were included for regular issues (and not a special issue as it was expected). Regarding Aix-en-Provence’s conference, there are 3 papers under publication, which were kept by Eileen Bridges from the process. They are nearly ready to be published, but the situation of all the other papers submitted is not known.
- Relation with other journals
In parallel with all these, it was discussed the possibility of exploring other publishing options, for future conferences. Besides occasional collaborations with SIJ, and a more structured work with journals with which RESER has stablished already some relation, that could offer possibility for quick review, and publishing quick some papers of the RESER conferences (EGS, Anfitheatru Economic, Journal of Inspirational Economy, Revue de l’Economie et de Management d’Innovation), other possibilities to establish more permanent links are being studied for this and for the next years (e.g. Eurasia Business Review). Another possibility for a special issue from future conferences (starting Copenhagen 2015) has appeared in cooperation with the journal Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment (EPEE).
- Editing Books; RESER publishing series with Edward Elgar
The possibility of editing books was also intensively discussed. There is a possibility of preparing a book with Edward Elgar. It is a more broad possibility, to have a book each year, stablishing a “RESER book series”. That will need very committed editors, with wide involvement in the process, but with the advantage of controlling refereeing process, and transdisciplinary approach. It will have some flexibility in its format, with 10 to 15 papers.
PS has initiated the discussion with Edward Elgar on a RESER based series on services. A potential theme could be discussed after the conference in Copenhagen.
e) Long Term membership
In the Helsinki GA the possibility of creating a long term membership status was suggested, with a lower membership fee for long term members, namely the ones that are retired and not linked anymore to an academic institution. A general discussion was held on this topic with contradictory positions. It was considered that GA would like to ask to the council to propose on this, for a clear decision. Additional discussions are needed within the council to generate a proposal.
g) Visibility of RESER
Following the GA recommendations on the need to improve visibility of RESER, engaging more with other areas of society, and organizing sessions of dissemination in other conferences, etc., several initiatives were developed. Several of the suggestions made on improving the collaboration with other networks, and of promoting workshops, or special sessions on other conferences were taken in consideration.
A special session, centred on the theme “Public-private Collaborations & Regional Development” was organized by Brita Hermelin and Grete Rusten, in the scope of the Regional Studies Association conference.
The Council members that participate at various national and international conferences, expert groups, seminars and workshops are disseminating news on the RESER and raise the awareness on RESER in different scientific and public policy communities. These activities are well in line with the mission oriented objectives of strengthening the visibility and impact of RESER.
The council discussed also the way to develop the relation with RESER institutional members, in order to enable them to present their recent work on services on our webpage or elsewhere, and to give the opportunity to RESER members to learn more about what they doing.
In order to develop the relation with other service networks (besides REDLAS) and visibility within different scientific and public policy communities, the council also discussed the possibility of utilizing different platforms that relate to service research.
Patrik Ström participated in the conference “Making the EU services market an engine for growth” organized by the EU Commission and Bertelsmann Stiftung on 2 July. This was one of the outcomes of the work within the High Level Group on Business Services. This could for the future generate a position for RESER in the policy work on services within the EU.
Suggestions for improving relations with other service networks have been discussed by the council, in the sequence of GA recommendations. The possibility of setting up RESER sessions at other associations conferences (besides Regional Studies) was discussed and some suggestions putted forward. Organizing other Special Sessions in our conference in the future is also a possible way to interact with other organizations.
4. OTHER ACTIVITIES OF THE COUNCIL
4.1. WEBPAGE MANAGEMENT
RESER webpage have been actively used and updated, all through the year. Some small problems with the management of the webpage and recurrent technical difficulties that have been felt in the past seem to be dealt for now, and the relation with the provider is far more efficient. The main challenge now is to have a continuous flow of information from the members, in order to keep the webpage updated and attractive to visitors. Several improvements were achieved, mostly with PhD´s students’ information (providing monthly profiles of diverse PhD students and information about their thesis), but there is the need of more information, particularly showing the regular activity of members. Other challenge is to stablish again more efficient and quick links to conference papers after each conference, overcoming the difficulties stablished by journal publishers during publication process. This is an important concern as the availability of papers is useful for both students and researchers (even if temporary, previous to the publication of the same paper in a journal or book).
The discussion on more structural changes on the webpage for next years (upgrading and modernizing it, involving younger researchers collaborating in its management, and providing new ideas in the way we communicate), continued among the council members, though its urgency is not so accurate as it was when the technical problems were bigger. Nevertheless, if things go well, it will be expected to have more information to be disseminated, and solutions in order to find another platform (open source) to a new webpage are being thought..
All RESER members are encouraged to submit information to the Council that they want to publish on the web. With the extensive database on member teams the RESER website is a platform that enables members to connect with other members more easily when building teams for projects or looking for partners for developing other ways of cooperation. Information should be sent to website manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) or posted at RESER LinkedIn Group.
4.2 ENHANCING AND MAPPING RESER COMMUNITY
In the sequence of last years’ efforts to improve membership mapping and the knowledge about our members and services researchers’ community, some specific steps were made in order to advance on this, continuing the efforts developed during last year.
Last year, several ancient RESER databases were crossed, and it was assumed a new updated version, for information dissemination purposes, drawing upon the registration of participants (and memberships) at Aix-en-Provence conference. This database was transmitted to Helsinki organizing team, which updated it and transmit it to Copenhagen team. In parallel, another more extensive database was prepared, drawing upon existing information from last conferences, which is useful for larger dissemination purposes (e.g call for papers launching, etc). This database will also be regularly updated in the near future, and shared by the council and local organizing committees.
The council has made an effort to centralize and update this information, in order to be able to communicate and involve more directly the members that link with the association for just a short period. In effect, we have each year new members coming to the conference (which have to become members in order to register for the conference), and maybe we could build some buzz around them, in order to try to involve them more with RESER (and make them stay after those year, as many of them just register for that specific year’s conference). The idea is to a list of new members, each year, and the council would be happy to welcome the new RESER members and provide a more personal relation with them. Marie-Christine Monnoyer volunteer to build upon this relation and send an welcome e-mail to all of them in name of RESER, collecting also information to feed the website, in the process. Drawing upon the registers of 3 last conferences and the associate treasure registers, Jose Luis Navarro has been updating the members list, identifying the new members of the 3 last conferences, which are being contacted now by the council. This process is intended to be followed during next years.
In this strategy for enhancing RESER community, the role of the webpage is central, as it was defined last year. The webpage was assumed as the main information repository and main dissemination mechanism, being available to all the ones interested in RESER activity, and reaching people that was (voluntarily or not) excluded from the previous existing databases, which no longer receive directly information. This was also followed this year and it is supposed to be continued.
Another issue considering the enhancement and mapping of RESER community is the mapping and communication with PhD students. It has been identified the problem that we do not have any regular information about the PhD students that are working in service science, even within RESER community. A mechanism is still being developed in order to have a reliable and updated list, which can be useful for getting updating information on students’ work and thesis about services. A new list, with data collected from last conferences, plus information from summer schools and PhD Doctoral Colloquium is under development. However, as it is a task which is very time consuming to maintain, and which is not possible to make on voluntary basis, as we have scarce resources and need to prioritize where we put our workload, for now this aspect is still underdeveloped.
5. ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCIAL ISSUES
Jose Luis Navarro has been the RESER treasurer and has helped the organization to enhance the efficiency of financial issues. The financial situation of RESER is presented in the accounting report.
During the course of the year the council was being informed of the evolution of the situation by its treasurer. After the closing of the 2015 conference there were no big news to report; the as the situation is stable, in line with the previsions, giving a comfortable financial situation to deal with all the budgeted items. One unexpected and very good issue is that we have now one new institutional member: Mondragon Innovation and Knowledge (from Basque Country, Spain), which expressed its interest to join RESER as institutional member, and our budget was reinforced with this.
This is in line with the discussion held in last GA’s and the need to attract more institutional members as associates of RESER, and the mechanisms developed for the effects. For now, it is admitted that each institution have the right to have 3 “free membership” in the conference fees. Efforts will be made to attract more institutional members.
Conferences 2016 (Naples) and 2017
The council analysed and accepted the proposal received from Tiziana Russo Spena for the organization of 2016 conference, to be realized in Naples. The proposal of date is 15-17 September and the preliminary general theme is “What’s ahead in Service? The challenges of service research for business and society”. The council discussed the preliminary documents (with general theme and subthemes proposals) which were sent by the proposed organizers, and have been giving feedback and some suggestions in order to have a broad scope in the conference, which can embrace all RESER interests. RESER will offer to local organizer proponents’ support in terms of articulation with 2015 Conference Organizing Team and all council activity. The need to articulate with PhD colloquium organization is also required and will be developed during next year.
The council has also started thinking on 2017 Conference, and some potential possibilities are being explored. Potential candidates are welcome to contact the council for consideration.
Calls for proposals
It were not registered new participations of RESER in calls or proposals, this year, again. This seems a problematic topic for action, and this area would be an opportunity to strengthen the work on joint applications for national and European funding. It potentially calls for better coordination among the RESER community.
The council had a brief discussion on this in its face-to-face meetings, framing this need on its strategic plans for the future. Common research projects (particularly based on EU funding) will be an interesting opportunity for RESER to deep its role in services research. RESER competitive advantages as a long-term stablished and broadly internationally disseminated network were brought up and considered as an important asset to explore. Individual initiative in the mobilization of partners and the development of proposals seem to be a determinant aspect which should be worked out.
Preparation of electoral process
Lars Fuglsang will stand for election to join as regular member. Laurentiu Tachiciu will stand for re-election at the GA. Tiziana Russo Spena will join the council as the organizer for the 2016 conference.
Report prepared by:
Pedro Costa and Patrik Ström
Reser Council Secretary and President