Service Design - a conceptualization of an emerging practice
Abstract: Service design is an emerging design practice with an interdisciplinary heritage. Most previous research has been based on what service designers do; with the increased academic interest in service design over the past decade, the time has come to conceptualize the underlying discourses. The main purpose of this thesis is to contribute knowledge to the emerging service design discourse through conceptual comparisons of key concepts in the design and service management literatures. This theoretical licentiate thesis consists of a main body text, a Kappa, situating two previously published papers in the research context. The conceptual framework encompasses areas of design research, including design thinking, service design and design management. These areas are related to management research, with a specific focus on service marketing/management, including Service-Dominant logic and service innovation. The thesis includes an interdisciplinary literature review with a specific focus on how user involvement is conceptualized in service design and service management respectively, and develops a conceptual framework of service design based in descriptions of service design practice in the literature. The framework presents service design through five characteristics, as an 1) interdisciplinary practice, using 2) visualization & prototyping, and 3) participation as means for developing the design object, seen as 4) transformation, and 5) value creation. This framework leads to an understanding of service design practice as a continuously repositioning activity. The thesis argues that the relation between service marketing/management and service design is complementary, particularly in tools and methods for user involvement and co-creation, and therefore the relation is mutually productive. It further argues that design practice can help realize Service Dominant logic, and a service perspective can help open up new positions for design practice. In sum, this thesis contributes knowledge that enriches the understanding and relevance of service marketing/management for the design discourse and vice versa.
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