CenSE has a strong research focus in many aspects of service excellence, frequently leading and collaborating on high-impact projects.

How to structure reward in NGOs

Ishbel McWha-Hermann discusses her research interests in the area of justice and diversity within international work contexts

Service management theory has to date developed along two lines in isolation from each other. Service marketing has focused on the process of service delivery and the role of relationships within these processes. Operations management has instead focused on the systems underlying service delivery. In the UK, Exeter and Loughborough are oriented to operations management, while Manchester is focused on marketing. Other centres take a sectoral approach, with both Surrey and Bournemouth focusing on tourism and hospitality and Saïd Business School on retailing.

Our unique contribution to theory is to bring these two elements together. Our model integrates the processes and relationships that interact within service systems. Within this approach, co-production will be at the heart of both our research and engagement agenda, and of our modus operandi. Widely discussed as a core element of service, co-production is poorly theorised and researched. We will make a major contribution to theory and pratice here. Finally, we situate this approach within an appreciation of the societal context of service and services that is currently wholly absent in the field.

Consequently, our research and engagement agenda focuses on four significant issues that form our work packages. These will add value and enrich both our understanding of service management, and inspire effective managerial practice.

Publications Projects

Understanding the Practice of Co-production in Service Delivery

As suggested above, co-production is a core element ascribed to service delivery. However, over time, its elements have been poorly understood and often aggregated together. This stream of work will produce new theory and empirical knowledge about the nature and contingencies of co-production, and use these as the basis on which to challenge and change practice.

Projects in this work package include:

  • Theorising co-production (Osborne)
  • Co-productive responses to service loyalty and service failure (El-Manstrly)
  • Considering the role of employees in co-production (Loretto)
  • Co-creating identity in service systems (Gilmore)
  • Co-production and consumer loyalty (Harrison)

The cornerstone of this work package, fundamental to CenSE overall, is a major study to be conducted by Osborne conceptualising co-production and exploring the implications of this through cross-sectoral empirical research.

Transforming Service Delivery

A range of societal and economic challenges are changing the nature of service delivery. Globalisation is of course significant, but equally the impact of digital technology and demographic changes are just as significant. This work package will explore what these challenges are and how they can be embraced to add value to the service economy worldwide.

Projects in this work package include:

  • The impact of social media and digital technology on service delivery (Marder)
  • The impact of service interactions on transforming consumers' wellbeing and quality of life (El-Manstrly)
  • Globalisation and east-west perspectives on service delivery (Kinder)
  • The impact of the ageing workforce on service organisations (Loretto)
  • Changes in human resource configurations and their impact on service delivery (Patel)
  • The impact of structural changes in the service industry on service systems and service delivery (Safavi)

Innovation in Service Delivery

Service firms are embracing a range of innovations to address the above transformational change in the nature of service. This work package will explore the management of such innovation in service systems and service delivery, with a special focus on the co-production of innovation.

Projects in this work package include:

  • The governance of risk in innovation in service delivery (Mare and Moreira)
  • User-led innovation (Kinder)
  • The co-production of innovation in public services (Flemig and Osborne)
  • The role of entrepreneurship in stimulating innovation in service delivery (Hatem)

Leadership and Accountability within Service Systems

The above challenges require both strategic leadership and changes in the accountability relationships between service systems and their consumers. This final work package will explore the implications of this for effective service delivery.

Projects in this work package include:

  • Accountability and regulation in the banking sector (Hagendorff and Harrison)
  • Strategy and change in the service sector (Harwood)
  • Ownership and accountability in service firms (Henderson)
  • Strategy and leadership in the service sector (Kirkup)

The work of CenSE will focus initially on five significant industries within the service sector:

  • Banking and finance
  • Creative arts and the media
  • Public services
  • Retailing
  • Tourism and leisure

Each of these work packages will develop a research and engagement plan to integrate the insights from their component research elements. The enactment of the work packages will also be predicated on CenSE's service model: the governance of service processes and relationships within integrated service systems and with co-production as the core of this governance. This model will form the basis of our contribution and be built empirically and theoretically from the work carried out across CenSE.

The achievement of CenSE's vision and mission is also predicated upon collaboration and co-production as a core value of the Centre in all elements of its work. This will be enacted in three specific ways:

  • Through collaboration work with the other research centres in the Business School and across the University
  • The development of international collaborations to drive the research agenda
  • Co-productive collaboration and engagement with the private, public, and third-sectors to ensure that the advances in knowledge and understanding produced are harnessed to have an impact on effective service delivery

In each of these spheres, the intention will be to add value to and to extend existing work and relations by collaboration.