PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to investigate the potential roles for service robots (i.e. socially assistive robots) in value networks of elderly care. Taking an elderly person’s perspective, it defines robot roles according to their value co-creating/destroying potential for the elderly user (i.e. focal actor), while acknowledging consequences for a network of users around the elderly (i.e. network actors).Design/methodology/approachThis qualitative, interpretative study employs in-depth phenomenographic interviews, supported by generative cards activities (i.e. Contextual Value Network Mapping), to elicit an elderly person’s tacit knowledge and anticipate the effects of introducing an automated actor on institutionalized value co-creation practices.FindingsThe proposed typology identifies six roles of socially assistive robots in an elderly person’s value network (enabler, intruder, ally, replacement, extended self, and deactivator) and links them to three health-supporting functions by robots: safeguarding, social contact, and cognitive support.Research limitations/implicationsElderly people have notable expectations about the inclusion of a socially assistive robot as a new actor in their value networks. The identified robot roles inform service scholars and managers about both the value co-destruction potential that needs to be avoided through careful designs and the value co-creation potential that should be leveraged.Originality/valueUsing network-conscious phenomenographic interviews before the introduction of a novel value proposition sheds new light on the shifting value co-creation interplay among value network actors (i.e. elderly people, formal and informal caregivers). The value co-creation/destruction potential of socially assistive robots and their corresponding roles in care-based value networks offer insights for the design of meaningful robotic technology and its introduction into the existing service networks.
Journal of Service Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 12, 2018
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