This page is older archived content from an older version of the Emerald Publishing website.

As such, it may not display exactly as originally intended.

Managing service innovation and quality: A service ecosystem perspective

The field of the research
Managerial studies have recently borrowed the ‘ecosystem’ idea from biology (Vargo & Lusch 2004). Ultimately, the word ‘ecosystem’ concerns the sum of both the living and non-living components which are part of a natural community. The ecosystem metaphor in management incites to understand economies themselves as natural communities, populated by different categories of entities, actors of the service exchange, integrating resources to pursue value co-creation (Wieland et al, 2012). Among the others, the so-said “service ecosystem” includes the agents who are variously involved in the design and delivery of services and who actively participate in the process of value co-creation (Lusch, Vargo & Gustafsson 2016). From this point of view and drawing on Lusch and Vargo (2014, p. 161), the service ecosystem could be defined as a “relatively self-contained, self-adjusting system of resource-integrating actors connected by shared institutional logics and mutual value creation through service exchange.”
It comprises of (a) entities acting in domain specific roles (e.g. as providers and consumers of specific offerings), (b) service exchanges enabling collaboration and co-creation in the ecosystem, and (c) infrastructure for realizing service engineering, delivery and governance (Ruokolainen and Kutvonen, 2012).

Where we are now
Many scholars have argued that the time is ripe to discuss service ecosystems in a variety of business contexts (Letaifa & Reynoso 2015). For the sake of the argument, Banoun and colleagues (2016) have recently discussed the evolution of service ecosystems, identifying most suitable economies in which the topic can be addressed; embracing a different perspective, Deng and coauthors (2016) delved into the value structure of service ecosystems. In sum, the design and the structure of service ecosystems have attracted the attention of most of the scholars and practitioners and seems intriguing in all (service) economies. Nevertheless, being it such a theoretical issue, still little is known about service ecosystems, their principal traits, performance, dynamics. This is surprising, in light of the different service environment which have been examined according to the service ecosystem perspective, including: health care, tourism, and sport (see, among the others, (Koskela-Huotari et al. 2016; Vargo, Wieland & Akaka 2015; Frow et al. 2014; 2016).

Where should we go
This special issue of TQM is an attempt to push forward the knowledge in the field of service ecosystems, by better analysing their key features and the way actors interact to co-create value according to their institutional arrangements. Rather than focusing on institutional and structural issues, this call for papers is meant at encouraging further research dealing with the implementation and the functioning of service ecosystems. Research topics include:
• The modelization of service ecosystems’ functioning;
• The multi-dimensional evaluation of service ecosystems’ performance;
• The ability of service ecosystems to improve quality and succes of the service exchange;
• The role of service ecosystems in fostering individual and collective sustainability;
• The reconceptualization of total quality management in the perspective of service ecosystems;
• The role of Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) in enabling service ecosystems functioning;
• The infuence of co-creation practices in strengthening relationships within  service ecosystems;
• Others.

Banoun, A, Dufour, L & Andiappan, M 2016, 'Evolution of a service ecosystem: Longitudinal evidence from multiple shared services centers based on the economies of worth framework', Journal of Business Research, vol 69, no. 8, pp. 2990–2998.
Frow, P, McColl-Kennedy, JR & Payne, A 2016 , Co-creation practices: Their role in shaping a health care ecosystem ', Industrial Marketing Management, vol 56, pp. 24-39.
Koskela-Huotari, K, Edvardsson, B, Jonas, JM, Sörhammar, D & Witell, L 2016, 'Innovation in service ecosystems—Breaking, making, and maintaining institutionalized rules of resource integration', Journal of Business Research, vol 69, no. 8, pp. 2964–2971.
Heiko, W, Polese, F,  Vargo, SL & Lusch, RF 2012, 'Toward a Service (Eco)Systems Perspective on Value Creation', Journal of Service Science, Management, Engineering, and Technology, vol 3, no. 3, pp. 12-25.
Letaifa, SB & Reynoso, J 2015, 'Toward a service ecosystem perspective at the base of the pyramid', Journal of Service Management, vol 26, no. 5, pp. 684-705.
Lusch, RF & Vargo, SL 2014, Service-Dominant Logic - Premises, Perspectives, Possibilities, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Lusch, RF, Vargo, SL & Gustafsson, A 2016, 'Fostering a trans-disciplinary perspectives of service ecosystems', Journal of Business Research, vol 69, no. 8, pp. 2957-2963.
Sigala, M 2012, 'The ecosystem of the electronic tourism distribution chain: The metamorphosis of the intermediaries & tourism markets', in Ruokolainen, T & Kutvonen L, (eds), Framework for Managing Features of Open Service Ecosystems,  Chapter 21, pp. 491-523, Handbook of Research on Service-Oriented Systems and Non-Functional Properties: Future Directions.
Vargo, SL & Lusch, RF 2004, 'Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing', Journal of Marketing, vol 68, no. 1, pp. 1-17.
Vargo, SL, Wieland, H & Akaka, MA 2015, 'Innovation through institutionalization: A service ecosystems perspective', Industrial Marketing Management, vol 44, pp. 63-72.

Submission deadline: February 28, 2017

Further guidance on submission
Please read the publication style guidelines before submitting your paper, these can be found at Please submit your article using TQM's ScholarOne portal ( and ensure to select the correct special issue title on the fourth page of submission.
For further enquiries, please contact the guest editor Professor Maria V. Ciasullo at [email protected]. Authors should contact [email protected] if they require any assistance. They must quote the journal name and special issue title with their enquiry.