Current environmental, social and economic sustainability challenges are increasingly becoming sources of motivation for both manufacturing and service companies when attempting to innovate their businesses. In recent years, there has been growing interest from academics, policy-makers and practitioners on service innovation as a new business logic for companies to address societal challenges regarding sustainability. Nevertheless, research specifically focusing on service innovation in relation to sustainability is scarce and ultimately scattered across different research fields. Thereby, only limited clues are available for companies willing to address sustainability challenges through service innovation. To encourage further research in this direction, this paper systematically reviewed the available literature by investigating peer-reviewed publications (from 2004 up to and including 2015) across different fields, which jointly focus on services, innovation and sustainability. The literature review confirmed both the growing amount of research on service innovation in relation to sustainability, as well as the lack of an overarching field to clearly identify such a phenomenon. The review also revealed that three main existing research streams (service innovation, product-service system and sustainability-oriented innovation) contribute to the investigation topic, though all have specific focuses when it comes to the sustainability and innovation dimensions considered. Taking stock of the descriptive and thematic analysis of the review and the identified research gaps, the paper concludes by discussing the need for a clear recognition of the emerging field of sustainability-oriented service innovation, and by outlining several future research pathways for its further enhancement.
Journal of Cleaner Production – Elsevier
Published: Aug 20, 2018
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