In Europe, in many countries and in most sectors, economic growth has disappeared or at least slowed down considerably. As in all major crises, there is a disruption in the functioning of the economy and of businesses. Issues of sovereign debt and the development of European monetary union should not make us forget the technological and entrepreneurial aspects of this rupture. In this context, research on services can bring new ideas to the debate on economic development. Such research relies on the observation of companies which try to create value through services, regardless of their business sector. The emerging business landscape is characterized by important and complementary mutations. While hybrid manufacturing-services offerings and the phenomenon of “servitization” are increasingly seen in many industries, an engineering-based approach to services can also be observed, with a strong practice of modeling and simulation, both at the level of services’ production and of the interactions with customers.
This conference should therefore be a forum for the analysis and discussion of innovative studies to demonstrate the role and impact of services in economic growth, while highlighting services’ specificities in the interactional aspects of customer relationships. Researchers from management, economics, sociology, geography, or any other discipline are invited to submit studies that explore and develop a multidisciplinary understanding of these issues. Researchers are invited to submit papers based on literature reviews, conceptual and empirical studies using qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. We propose to organize this forum around the following five themes, but papers on related or transversal topics are also welcome:
- Service jobs, human resources management and productivity
- Moving from service innovation to innovation through a Service-Dominant Logic (SDL)
- New services, services networks and new service organizations
- Internationalization: the new frontier for the development of services?
- Service activities and urban and regional restructuring
Service jobs, human resources management and productivity
A major transformation is taking place in economic growth, and it primarily concerns productivity. Developed countries are struggling to effectively mobilize their workforce as shown by the rapidly increasing levels of unemployment in OECD countries. With fewer resources due to lower margins or markets, companies are no longer investing as much in new equipment and must rely on other means to increase their efficiency. Growth relies more than ever on increasing productivity. In services, the general slowdown in productivity gains is attributed to many causes, but it is assumed that productivity gains created by information and communication technologies are no longer as important as during the last two decades.
Important changes are also occurring at the level of management. Organization charts inherited from the 19th century are competing with more flexible organizations where employees have more room to maneuver while being highly accountable for results. In services to households, maintaining productivity gains relies on the ability of companies to mobilize their workforces, to raise skills of their partners and providers, to develop friendly customer relationships (with a real link between staff and customers) and to create short and effective customer journeys. In knowledge-intensive services, communication, interaction and negotiation skills become increasingly important as these services develop. These trends affect both commercial and non-commercial services. In most services, standardization of tasks requires a reorganization of activities that can be automated and centralized. Finally, strategies for innovation in services require a particular human resource management to select the right people that will be able to communicate internally and externally and to build a compensation system rewarding creativity.
Situations of employment in services are numerous and varied. We expect, among others, papers on:
- The state of productivity in services, whether private or public
- The design of service jobs in interaction situations
- The relationship between recruitment and the development of specific service skills
- The integration of human resources management within service innovation policies
- The relationship between performance and training
- The state of employment and jobs during growth and recession
Moving from service innovation to innovation through a Service-Dominant Logic (SDL)
Research on innovation in services has gradually moved away from the technological or industrial model of innovation and focused on the specificities of innovation in service activities. This stream of research has been the subject of several RESER research programs and presentations or workshops at past RESER conferences. Recently, it has been enriched with a new conceptual approach, termed the “Service-Dominant Logic”, which considers services less as a category of activities, and more as representative of a global perspective on value creation. This perspective is based on the concepts of exchange value and use value, in addition to its interest in the design of manufacturing and sales processes, and highlights the fact that the source of value creation lies within the ability to recognize and meet consumers’ needs. Such vision echoes the early work on the service economy that emerged in the 1980s and can also be linked to more recent research on sustainable development.
As for the measurement of innovation in services, even though it has developed parallel to the previously mentioned conceptual developments on this theme, it still requires more research and can be the object of conceptual and empirical papers. In this same framework of innovation measurement, the evaluation of local innovation policies has been the subject of several European programs. Data to measure innovation in services are normally available at national and regional levels, but the measurement of innovation at the local level is becoming crucial, because it is at this level that cluster strategies are implemented.
Hence, we expect communications on the following or related topics:
- Services as a source of innovation
- Innovation as a means to renew services and enhance their production processes
- The relevance of the “Service-Dominant Logic” as a new approach
- Measurement of service innovation and performance evaluation of policies to support innovation in services
- The impact of the digital revolution on services
New services, services networks and new service organizations
The current economic difficulties also have technological roots. Digital transformation affects key areas of activity and represents a real revolution. All businesses are impacted but not at the same speed or to the same degree. This digital transformation of the economy gives way to the emergence of new entrepreneurs and new organizations. It includes the traditional sector of ICT, software and computer services companies, telecommunications, as well as the Internet sector and other creative industries. It also appears in the somehow surprising development of robotics in services, simulation and interaction models that have been grouped under the terms “Service Science”. Service engineering integrates the structures, processes and skills to deliver innovative services to the largest number in the most reliable fashion. Relationships with suppliers are also changing and supply chains are increasingly becoming platforms from which all partners can benefit.
These new services are driven by entrepreneurs who face the traditional challenges of business creation, but must also develop interactive skills as many services are developing in networks and in more or less formal alliances. Such networks give access to additional resources and can improve profitability. A careful attention to consumers’ needs can also create opportunities for new lucrative and successful businesses even in traditional sectors. Diversification can also be an effective tool as it opens new horizons and, when it is successfully implemented, allows companies to boost sales. For instance, entrepreneurs in the ‘low cost’ sector show that there are considerable margins for more productivity in services. These entrepreneurs offer a totally redesigned and more effective organization, where the simplicity of the offer is a factor in reducing costs and guaranteeing lower prices for the consumer. The organization focuses on jobs directly related to the service, resulting in the reduction of hierarchies. At the same time, Internet use is widespread. The question arises whether this customer-based advantage will erode over time with the development of the necessary bureaucracy to manage success. One may ask whether there is a cycle of services, like the “wheel of retailing”: the advantages that have led to the birth of the company disappearing at the end of the cycle under the effects of gentrification and bureaucratization of operations.
For this theme, focusing on the company in its relations with its environment, we expectpapers concerning, among other things:
- Success factors of new organizational forms for services, such as franchise networks, cooperatives or strategic alliances
- The logistics of the reorganization of industrial relations
- The new approaches based on service modeling and engineering
- Brand development and management of service networks
Internationalization: the new frontier for the development of services?
One of the main developments of the 1990’s was the acknowledgement of the importance of service activities in international trade. The General Agreement on Tradeand Services (GATS), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the “single market” in Europe and the deregulation of public and private services have brought to light the existence of an international trade in services and created rules for this trade. Whether the strategic dimension for the firm or the theoretical problems generated by services in the international trade analysis are concerned, a wide interest exists in the internationalisation of services that is now amplified by the new opportunities created by the development of information and communication technologies. These recent technologies greatly increase the potential of trade for service firms and favour the internationalization process of service firms. Thanks to these technologies, even the smallest service firm in some domains can reach far-distant markets, virtually prospect them and deliver services with low investments and no travelling costs. These technologies also enable easier control procedures with distant established partners or subsidiaries and swifter exchanges of information, which are necessary to implement such strategies.
However, all these movements have not completely liberalized the international trade in services in all its aspects. Moreover, the knowledge of international trade in services and of the internationalization process of firms is still impeded by the lack of statistical evidence and incomplete case studies of international service firms. The balance of payment statistics give only a partial perspective on this question.
Our objectives in this track are multiple and include among other things addressing the following topics:
- The complex question of the measurement of international trade and the internationalization process
- The question of regulation of international trade and the perspective of creating wide regional service markets
- The internationalization strategies of business service firms and consumer service firms, comparative advantages, networking practices, use of ICT and changes incorporated in the service offer
- The role of brands in the internationalization process of service firms
- Modes of entry as a critical determinant of international expansion, particularly entry modes based on the various kinds of cooperative agreements that have evolved in the new e-business and network economy such as franchising.
Service activities and urban and regional restructuring
The relationships between service activities, economic revival, and urban and regional restructuring constitute a multi-level question. For innovation, the local links between industrial services and manufacturing are essential to build clusters, to encourage creativity networks and to foster innovation. Many regions have tried to establish regional innovation policies with mixed results, because the local demand in services, particularly knowledge intensive services, is not balanced with local supply. The deficit in business services impedes not only innovation in but also the internationalization of manufacturing services, allowing them to compete effectively.
Research studies on urban development have brought much evidence about the relationships between urban growth and localization of service activities. Urbanization and the shift towards services are general, but not all cities have the same capacity to face the future. Business services, particularly knowledge intensive services, appear very clearly to be the drivers of growth of major cities, but at the same time an impediment to the development of secondary cities which are not able to attract these services.
Economic development is not only a matter of firms and jobs but also the result of creating a city where people want to live. The physicality of cities is still a very important dimension depending on the physical organization of cities and infrastructure: proximity, face-to-face interaction with business counterparts is still necessary and commuting needs increasingly efficient transport systems. Zoning, densities, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emission are major issues for developers but also for urban people who will decide more and more their own localization on these criteria. Services are at the heart of these questions because they are an integral part of the management of the cities and a lever to attract people and firms.
The conference should be an opportunity to present contributions dealing with, for example:
- Analyses of successful innovation clusters, as well as regional studies of services localization and linkages with manufacturing, based on recent data
- The regional level will also be favoured to analyse the innovation policy fostered by the European Union alone or in partnership with national and local authorities
- New analyses of the development of cities, the competition between them to attract high skill jobs and firms
- The importance of centralization and decentralization movements related to service activities within national boundaries
- Studies linking service activities with urban problems and sustainable solutions
RESER 2013 Scientific committee
- President: Marie Christine Monnoyer, CRM, Toulouse Capitole University, (France)
- Serge Amabile, Aix Marseille University; CERGAM (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche en Gestion d’Aix-Marseille)
- Isabelle Bouchardy, LERASS EA 827, UTMP, Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse 3 (France)
- Pedro Costa, DINAMIA’CET-IUL, ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon (Portugal)
- Peter Daniels, University of Birmingham, (UK)
- Faïz Gallouj, Faculté de sciences économiques et sociales, Lille (France)
- Brita Hermelin, Centre for Municipality Studies (CKS), Linköping University, (Sweden)
- Gisela di Meglio, Department of Economic Analysis II, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain)
- Céline Merlin Brogniard, Faculté de sciences économiques et sociales, Lille (France)
- Jean Louis Moulins, Aix Marseille University, Aix en Provence, (France)
- Jose Luis Navarro, University Hospital Virgen de las Nieves – Granada(Spain)
- Gilles Paché, Aix Marseille University, Cergam Aix en Provence, (France)
- Jean Philippe, Aix Marseille University, Cergam Aix en Provence, (France)
- Luis Rubalcaba, University of Alcalá, Madrid, (Spain), Visiting Fulbright Scholar at Boston University, United States)
- Grete Rusten, University of Bergen, Board member Bergen Teknologioverføring AS (a TTO)
- Maria Savona, SPRU Science and Technology Policy Research University of Sussex (UK ) and Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences University of Lille 1 (France)
- Markus Scheuer, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Essen, (Germany)
- Alexander Schletz, Fraunhofer IAO, Stuttgart (Germany)
- Metka Stare, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)
- Patrik Ström, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, (Sweden)
- Jon Sundbo, Université de Roskilde, (Denmark)
- Laurentiu Tächiciu, Bucharest University of Economic Studies, (Romania)
- Marja Toïvonen, VTT Technical Research Centre and the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management of Aalto, (Finland)