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Created by Adminsske on 13 May 2012, at 18:13


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The growth of the global service economy has led to a dramatic increase in our daily interactions with highly specialized service systems. These daily service interactions are both frequent and diverse, and may include retail, financial, healthcare, education, on-line, communications, technical support, entertainment, transportation, legal, professional, government, or many other types of specialized interactions. We often play the role of customer in these interactions, but we also play the role of provider at home and work. The purpose of these many interactions is to create (or sometimes to mitigate the destruction of) value of some type. On those especially busy days of creating or salvaging value, we all come to realize, perhaps reluctantly at first, that we live, work, and play by taking on   great many roles in a great many service systems, and that we are all, in fact, individual service systems ourselves - increasingly complex, multitasking,  highly specialized, knowledge-intensive human service systems - in ‘business’ to interact with others and cocreate value. And yet surprisingly few students graduating from universities have studied anything about service systems.

Service Science, Management, Engineering, and Design (SSMED), or service science for short, is an emerging discipline aimed at understanding and
innovating service systems. Service systems are ancient, since the dawn of specialized knowledge and the division of labor, and are now rapidly evolving as
costs plummet due to information and communication technologies (ICT) innovations that accelerate the creation of and sharing of specialized knowledge
assets. Informal and formal service systems have been coevolving at an accelerating rate. Informal service systems depend more on traditional social systems and authoritative political systems (superordinate goal – which is why authority may appear “unfair”), and formal service systems depend more on monetary economic and strict adherence to legal system judgments (process without utility comparison – which is why bureaucracy may appear “unreasonable” or “out-moded’). Service systems exist and expand because of the value of the growing body of specialized knowledge assets distributed across a growing population of specialized people, and because of the mathematical advantages of dependent win-win value co-creation (value propositions) and collective-win (governance mechanisms) interactions over purely independent ‘do-it-all-myself” activities. Service systems (normatively) co-create value by applying specialized knowledge of diverse capabilities (provider perspective) and reciprocal needs (customer perspective) as they interact with and establish relationships or one time encounters with other service systems.

This paper sketches an outline and preliminary set of references to provoke discussions about the difficult challenge of integrating multiple disciplines to create a new and unique service science. The sketch outlines the theoretical and practical foundations of the emerging field of service science, as well as the types of expertise (both broad interactional and deep contributory) that are important to service science professionals. Service science professionals seek to create and improve service systems (and their associated value propositions, governance mechanisms, and service networks). A service science lab network is also described, that could someday provide real, virtual, and simulated world experiences to educate and provide practical work experiences for future service scientists, and students of other disciplines seeking a better understanding of service systems as well.


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