Two-day Academic Conference, 22-23 September 2011, Cambridge, UK

Following the success of the 2010 Grand Challenge in Service week organized by the Cambridge Service Alliance, we are delighted to announce the Two-day Academic Conference to be held on 22-23 September 2011, as part of the 2011 Grand Challenge in Service Week in Cambridge.

Understanding Complex Service Systems through Different Lenses

Two-day Academic Conference, 22-23 September 2011, Cambridge, UK

Academic Conference Aim

The design, management and delivery of complex service systems suggest the need to fully understand the configuration of resources contributed by people, complex equipment, technology and processes to achieve service excellence and economic viability. There is therefore a need to understand the theory and practice in complex service systems as well as the value propositions that connect them. With a dynamic and rapidly changing business environment, organizations are confronted with many challenges as they try to develop their capabilities in complex service solutions and deliver on the promises inherent in new business models.

“This conference aims to explore, analyse, and evaluate complex service systems through different lenses – both in practice and in theory – in a unique conference format” Professor Irene Ng, AIM Service Fellow

Conference Theme  – Collaborating on theoretical and practice perspectives in a Complex Service System

How can we study and understand complex service systems? This will not be achieved through traditional approaches to scientific research alone.  In order to study and understand complex service system, the focus this year will be based on a unique conference format. Academics across the world are invited to submit abstracts on their research that would contribute to the understanding of complex service systems. These abstracts could cover a broad range of topics (see below), based on research in various domains, and could be conceptual or empirical. However, we request that the final 200 words of the 1200 word abstract connects the research conducted to a case scenario which will be provided (this section will be called the connecting section of the abstract). The connecting section of the abstract should link what is insightful and relevant from the research abstract to the case scenario so that, through all abstracts in the conference, we can draw on the insights and embed them into a case scenario, and therefore achieve collaborative and co-created knowledge during the plenary sessions. By using such a format, we hope to understand how various lenses in terms of research perspectives can shed light on the understanding of one complex service system.

The case scenario on a complex service system will be available by mid-April, on the website.

Concurrent sessions will be held for academics to present their individual research based on the abstract submitted. Collaborative sessions on the case scenario to discuss the connecting sections are held during the plenary session on the second day. During the plenary sessions, keynote speakers and business representatives will also share their views on the scenario, reflecting interdisciplinary approaches to the same complex service system.

Abstracts are invited from academics, policy makers and practitioners. Accordingly we are inviting abstracts on (though not limited to) the following sub-themes in complex service systems:

  • Networks
  • Performance management
  • New technologies
  • Risk management
  • Sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Value Co-creation
  • System theory and approaches

The conference will also select 5 most promising abstracts and authors will be invited to submit a full paper which could form a special issue around the case scenario. The best abstract winners will be announced during the conference dinner.

Conference Tracks

The conference organisers will shape the tracks according to the number and characteristics of received abstracts, yet in close relation to the sub-themes of the conference.  Priority will be given to submissions that analyze the conference case study.


  • Submission of abstracts (1,200 words – full instructions later on the conference website) by 31 May 2011.
  • Notification of acceptance and reviewers’ comments will be sent to the authors via e-mail by 15 June 2011. (based on double-blind review process)

Conference organisers

The Grand Challenge in Service Week is being organised by The Cambridge Service Alliance – A unique global partnership between businesses and universities. It brings together the world’s leading firms and educators devoted to delivering today the tools, education and insights needed for Complex Service Solutions tomorrow.

For further information, please contact Nick Mann T: +44 (0)1223 748263 E:

Best regards

Irene C.L. Ng

Professor of Marketing Science, University of Exeter Business School
Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) Research Services Fellow
Visiting Research Fellow, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge

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