Designing for Resilience : Navigating Change in Service Systems

Abstract: Services are prone to change in the form of expected and unexpected variations and disruptions, more so given the increasing interconnectedness and complexity of service systems today. These changes require service systems to be resilient and designed to adapt, to ensure that services continue to work smoothly. This thesis problematises the prevailing view and assumptions underpinning the current understanding of resilience in services.  Drawing on literature from service management, service design, systems thinking and social-ecological resilience theory, this work investigates how service design can foster resilience in service systems. Supported by empirical input from three research projects in healthcare, the findings show service design can contribute to the adaptability and transformability of service systems through its holistic, human-centred, participatory and experimental approaches. Through the analysis, this research identifies key intervention points for cultivating service systems resilience through service design, including the design of service interactions, processes, enabling structures and multi-level governance. The study makes two important contributions. First, it extends the understanding of service systems resilience as the collective capacity for intentional action in responding to ongoing change, coordinated across scales in order to create value. This is supported by offering alternative assumptions about resilience in service.  Second, it positions service design as an enabler of service resilience by explicitly linking design practice(s) to processes that contribute to resilience. By extending the understanding of service systems resilience, this thesis lays the groundwork for future research at the intersection of service design, systemic change and resilience.

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