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The rise and fall of self-service in Amsterdam trams: User technology relations in a case of service innovation


  • Roel Nahuis



The stabilisation of innovative technology depends on reconciling technological requirements and user behaviour. This can be achieved by adjusting the technology to the users, by configuring the user, or by a combination thereof. This paper evaluates different strategies in a case of service innovation: the substitution of conductors with self-service machines in the Amsterdam tramways around 1970 and the various forms of fare-dodging that came along. To counteract fare-dodging, the transport company unsuccessfully relied on a strategy to configure users. Alternative strategies, notably configuring users through technological adjustment, are suggested to increase the chance of stabilisation. These observations and suggestions are related to the actual characteristics of services: given that transport services are immediately and collectively used, their misuse, if not corrected by fellow passengers, soon tends to threaten the aspect of stability. Emphasising service characteristics thus contributes to a better understanding of strategies to reconcile services and users.

Suggested Citation

  • Roel Nahuis, 2008. "The rise and fall of self-service in Amsterdam trams: User technology relations in a case of service innovation," Innovation Studies Utrecht (ISU) working paper series 08-11, Utrecht University, Department of Innovation Studies, revised Apr 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:uis:wpaper:0811

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