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Service encounters as bases for innovation


  • Jon Sundbo
  • Donna Sundbo
  • Anders Henten


This article examines the factors affecting the innovativeness of service encounters - either as drivers or as barriers. The assumption is that a considerable number of innovations in service industries are initiated in service encounters and that employees are the core factor in connecting customers with the innovating organization. Based on literature studies and pilot case studies, seven propositions are proposed and tested in a qualitative, hermeneutic way in field experiments in nine service organizations. Important new results are that encounter-based innovation requires mutual empathy between employees and customers, employees investing stubbornness and time can be a driver for innovation, and several layers of management can be a barrier. In the field experiments three new factors for encounter-based innovation were found: translation, multitasking, and hyper-professionalism. The two first are drivers; the third a barrier. A model that summarizes the findings is presented.

Suggested Citation

  • Jon Sundbo & Donna Sundbo & Anders Henten, 2015. "Service encounters as bases for innovation," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(5), pages 255-274, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:servic:v:35:y:2015:i:5:p:255-274
    DOI: 10.1080/02642069.2015.1002478

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. FaÏz Gallouj & Faridah Djellal, 2010. "The Handbook of Innovation and Services: A Multi-disciplinary Perspective," Post-Print hal-01111763, HAL.
    2. Faïz Gallouj & Faridah Djellal (ed.), 2010. "The Handbook of Innovation and Services," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12872.
    3. I. Miles, 2003. "Services Innovation: Coming Of Age In The Knowledge-Based Economy," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Ben Dankbaar (ed.), Innovation Management In The Knowledge Economy, chapter 3, pages 59-81, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. Joe Tidd & Frank M Hull (ed.), 2003. "Service Innovation:Organizational Responses to Technological Opportunities & Market Imperatives," World Scientific Books, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., number p294, November.
    5. Chris Freeman & Luc Soete, 1997. "The Economics of Industrial Innovation, 3rd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 3, volume 1, number 0262061953.
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    Cited by:

    1. Henten, Anders & Windekilde, Iwona, 2015. "Transaction costs and the sharing economy," 26th European Regional ITS Conference, Madrid 2015 127145, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    2. Gabriela Bantau & Steven W. Rayburn, 2016. "Advanced information technology: transforming service innovation and design," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(13-14), pages 699-720, October.

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