Some thoughts on definining service science

Service science is challenging to define, such that people know what it is and is not.

Here are some thoughts about defining service science…

1.  Service science and arts is the study of and design of service or value-cocreation phenomena, historical, present-day, and future possibilities, and the life-cycle and evolution of the types of nested, networked service system entities that interact in diverse, dynamic service ecology. An example of value-cocreation phenomena important in human history is division-of-labor and capability optimization and specialization of people, businesses, cities, states, and nations.

2. Service science is the study of service phenomena (value co-creation) and service systems.   Service systems are dynamic configurations of resources including people, technology, organizations, and shared information, interconnected by value-propositions.   Each of the four types of resources (people, technology, organizations, and shared information) varies in terms of physical/non-physical and rights/no-rights, leading to the ability to re-balance what is done by people or technology, by people as self-service or organization as service provisioning, etc.  Many permutations and variations are possible, and to understand the dynamics of the evolution of capabilities and their distribution over time is central to service science.

3. Service science is the study of value co-creation phenomena in human-serving systems, over multiple scales, geographies, and time-frames.  What may appear to be value-cocreation at one scale, region, or time, may appear to be sustainable value-cocreation or even value destruction from another perspective, and new knowledge in the system can cause a shift in perspective.   The dynamics of service are shifted when the unknown unknown, becomes the known unknown, known known, or unknown known.  Societies can gain or lose knowledge, which impacts the types of service interactions in that society.

4. Service science is the study of win-win or non-zero-sum game phenomena in human social systems. Robert Wrights book “Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny” provides a good historical, philosophical, and mathematical introduction to non-zero-sum games in human social systems.    The notion of what is the fundamental building block, what is “human” and what are the capabilities, rights, and responsibilities of humans, ultimately becomes central to what non-zero-sum games are possible.

Not yet formalized:
Our research suggests that T-shaped people and T-shape regions have better properties than pure specialization and division of labor for accelerating innovativeness, equity, sustainability, and resilience of service systems.  If it was only about specialization, where are all the scribes?  Why do we not use division of labor for reading and writing?   Our research also indicates their may be an equivalent of Moore’s Law for service system evolution, but the limits are not known because it depends on knowledge, and the unknown unknown is a wild card.   Better methods of characterizing the unknown unknown are very important to “deep” service scientists.  However, most service scientists are concerned with just service productivity (usual from application of technology or network restructuring), service quality, service compliance, and service innovation.
Service science, management, engineering, design, arts, policymaking (SSME+DAP) is too long but captures the multidisciplinary nature of service science….

One Comment

  1. Jim,
    Thanks for your thoughts on this. We have all struggled with explaining to other folks and esp. our students what is service science. I have adopted the following definitions for my class.

    Service Science is short for Service Science, Management, Engineering and Design (SSMED).

    Service Science is concerned with the study of Service Systems.

    (cf. Computer Science is concerned with the study of Computer Systems)

    Service Systems are man-made complex systems designed to improve the quality of life by co-creating value through value propositions among the stake-holders.

    I have been able to explain each term in these definitions and provide more details (some very close to your comments above) and examples in my class.


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