Purpose – Focusing on one main research question: how is the phenomenon “service” portrayed within service research?, the aim is to describe and analyze how the concept of service is defined, how service characteristics express the concept, the relevance of the existing “service portraits”, and to suggest a new way of portraying service. Design/methodology/approach – A literature search was carried out in order to find definitions of the service concept and expressions about the service characteristics. Databases were searched and 34 articles were used for further analysis. The same procedure was carried out for service characteristics. The articles that were chosen by the databases were reviewed thoroughly and those most relevant to the search topic were chosen. Sixteen leading scholars who had been shaping the service research field were also asked two basic questions. Findings – The analysis of the concept of service and service characteristics shows that the definitions are too narrow and the characteristics are outdated as generic service characteristics. It is suggested that service is used as a perspective. When service is portrayed as a perspective, the approach is clear: it depends on who is portraying the service and on the purpose. If service characteristics are outdated, when will they stop being used in teaching? It is no longer necessary to defend services as being different from goods. Service is a research area in its own right. Research limitations/implications – The number of articles and books used in the analysis can be criticized for not including enough relevant literature. The keywords used when searching in databases should also have included other words to capture the concept of service and service characteristics. Practical implications – The practical implications are not so clear since this article is a contribution to the ongoing discussion about future directions of service research. However, it is suggested that service is a perspective on value creation and that value creation is best understood from the lens of the customer based on value in use. Originality/value – This paper contributes with a literature review, a discussion on what service portraits are, and describes service as a perspective on value creation through the lens of the customer.
International Journal of Service Industry Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 2005
Keywords: Services; Customers
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