PurposeTransformative service research (TSR) and social marketing share a common goal, which is to institute social change that improves individual and societal well-being. However, the mechanism via which such improved well-being results or so-called “transformation” occurs, is not well understood. The purpose of this paper is to examine the claims made in the TSR literature to identity the themes and scholarly meaning of “transformative” service exchange; ascertain the mechanisms used in service contexts to realize transformation, including to motivate long-term, sustainable societal change; and develop a transformative service exchange continuum to guide research and managerial approaches that aim to create uplifting social change. The authors recommend their continuum as a framework to inform how social marketing and service scholars design service solutions to address wicked social problems.Design/methodology/approachThis paper presents a qualitative study where Leximancer, a text-mining tool, is used to visualize the structure of themes and concepts that define transformative service exchanges as explained and applied in the literature. Additionally, a profiling analysis of transformation as it is discussed in the TSR literature is used to identify the mechanisms that service marketers have developed to establish current theorization of service thinking for social change. These qualitative phases of analysis then inform the development of the transformative service exchange continuum.FindingsA scoping review identified 51 articles across 12 journals, based on this study’s selection criteria for identifying transformative service exchanges. The Leximancer analysis systematically and efficiently guided the authors’ interpretation of the large data corpus and was used in the identification of service themes. The use of text-mining software afforded a detailed lens to enrich the authors’ interpretation and clarification of six high-level concepts for inclusion on a transformative service exchange continuum.Originality/valueThis paper aims to unpack the meaning of transformative service exchange by highlighting the mechanism(s) used by researchers when designing social change outcomes. It contributes to TSR via the development of the continuum across micro, meso and macro levels. The temporal nature of transformative service exchanges is also elucidated. This continuum integrates current TSR studies and can guide future service studies in the TSR and social marketing domains.
Journal of Services Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 3, 2019
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