Understanding service design practices and contributions to new service development

Yu, Eun and Sangiorgi, Daniela and Cruickshank, Leon (2016) Understanding service design practices and contributions to new service development. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Since two decades ago, Service Design as a design-led approach to service development and innovation has expanded its scope of interventions and contributions. It has been repositioning itself from a rendering activity for supporting the development of service concepts and structures to a human-centred and holistic approach to service development. However, this expanding conceptualization of Service Design has not drawn much attention from wider service research communities. It may be partly because Service Design has had weak connections to other service disciplines while remaining as a design-centred description of knowledge and practice within the boundary of Design. To address this issue, this thesis paid attention to New Service Development (NSD) theory as a frame of reference for studying Service Design. Relating Service Design to NSD theory may be helpful in enhancing the legitimacy of Service Design by demonstrating how the ‘designerly’ approach could contribute to organizational NSD practices and processes. Yet, Service Design has seldom been investigated systematically in relation to NSD theory. This thesis aimed to understand how Service Design practice is involved alongside the NSD process in terms of its interventions, characteristics, outcomes, and what are the contributions and implications for NSD theory. The literature review and expert interviews were conducted to build a theoretical relationship between Service Design and NSD theory as a foundation for studying Service Design in the context of NSD theory. Also, 10 case studies were undertaken to explore Service Design approaches and contributions to the service development process and practices. As a result, four Service Design intervention areas: INFORMING; SPECIFYING; ACTIVATING; and SUSTAINING were identified with associated key design activities. The intervention areas and design activities were then positioned into the existing NSD process literature to identify Service Design contributions to NSD theory, and they were interpreted through the lens of the Service Logic. The Service Logic served as a useful framework through which to articulate how Service Design practice can operationalize the user-centred perspective and approach in NSD. Moreover, the case studies indicated that different designer-client relationships can influence the quality of Service Design practices and can have different degrees of transformative impacts on the client’s service development and operations. The design practices in the ‘Delivering’ relationship stayed at a peripheral level, just providing the client with user-centred reference data. The designer’s activities in the ‘Assisting’ relationship motivated the client to design and realize user-centred service experiences. In the ‘Facilitating’ relationship, the design practices transformed the client to become a main agent for sustainable user-centred service innovation. This finding, on the one hand, can help organizations to recognize the potential contributions of service designers while encouraging them to be more receptive to the Service Design approach to reap the full benefits of it. On the other hand, the finding suggests that service designers need to learn more about organizations to better implement the design outcomes and affect organizational NSD practices and processes. Also, it implies the needs for developing more specialized Service Design strategies and approaches geared toward different project purposes and different organizational contexts.

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Thesis (PhD)
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03 Mar 2016 12:36
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:35