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Advancing Qualitative Research Methodology in Service Research

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Services Marketing

Special Issue call for papers: Journal of Services Marketing

Deadline: 1 December 2018

The service research field has grown in size and importance over the last 30 years and has developed from a subfield in marketing to a global, interdisciplinary research field. Since its introduction in 1987, Journal of Services Marketing has provided a fresh perspective on service theory and practice. Reflecting on the history of the journal, Martin (2012) describes its development as follows “the journal has evolved as the field of services marketing has evolved – from many conceptual, “how to” and idea articles to those more empirically‐based and theory‐driven.” To strengthen the role of the Journal of Services Marketing in making empirical and theoretical contributions to service research, this special issue would like to highlight the role of qualitative research.

The special issue will take a broad approach to qualitative research methodology, emphasizing both the strength and weaknesses in the present approaches in service research. Reviews of research methodology can be found in research fields such as Operations Management (Scudder and Hill, 1998), Management (Scandura and Williams, 2000) and International Business (Yang, Wang and Su, 2006). In addition, there are reviews of specific methods, such as the use of case research in operations management (Voss et al., 2012). However, there has been scarce attention given to the use and further development of qualitative research methodology in service research. Such an initiative is timely and needed for further development of the research area.

Throughout the development of the research field, service research has adapted to challenges such as the introduction of Internet and Mobile phones, increased globalization and an increased interest in new research topics such as service design, service innovation, servitization, and transformative service research. These developments have fostered and demanded an emphasis on qualitative research to address the increasing theoretical complexity. However, there is also a need to revisit and challenge the present use of qualitative research methodology. Are we using the right methods for the right research problems? Is the present use of qualitative research methods sufficient to address the challenges of service research?

Recently, there has also been a number of interesting developments in the use of qualitative research methodology in service research, such as the use of linguistics-based text mining (Ordenes et al., 2014), Fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) (Forkmann et al., 2017) and repertory grid technique (Macdonald et al., 2016). The special issue seeks contributions addressing both development in new qualitative research methodologies, as well as contributions addressing the improvements of rigor in the present use of established methods used in service research, such as case study research and action research.


This special issue aims to foster and advance qualitative research methodology in the service research field. This special issue calls for research making methodological contributions to qualitative research methodology Submissions can be conceptual or empirical in nature but should provide a methodological contribution to service research. Non-exhaustive list of topics to be covered in this special issue include:
•    Review of the use of qualitative research methodology in service research
•    The history of qualitative research in service research
•    “How to” papers on how to perform novel qualitative research
•    Novel approaches in case study research
•    Qualitative data analysis
•    Doing text analysis in qualitative research
•    Novel qualitative data collection techniques
•    Novel approaches to qualitative data analysis
•    Theory building through qualitative research
•    Evaluation of new methods eg. Machine learning, fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis
•    Ethnographic and Netnographic research
•    Qualitative research design (including research questions, aims, sampling methods, access)
•    Innovative ways of using and combining different types of qualitative data
•    Qualitative longitudinal approaches
•    Online/social media/videography qualitative research
•    Ethical issues in qualitative research
•    Qualitative narrative research
•    Qualitative research evaluation
•    Conducting managerially relevant qualitative research
•    Participatory qualitative research
•    What is quality in qualitative research
•    International aspects of qualitative research
•    Qualitative research in the future
•    Publishing qualitative studies


All manuscripts submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or be currently under consideration elsewhere.

Manuscripts should be submitted in accordance with the author guidelines available on the journal home page at

All submissions should be made via the ScholarOne online submission system and should be made to the special issue which is identified on the submission site.

Expected publication: Volume 34 (Issue 1) 2020
Please direct any further inquiries to the editors, listed below.

Guest Editor Contact Details

Professor Lars Witell
Industrial Engineering and Management, Linköping University and CTF, Karlstad University, Sweden
[email protected]

Professor Maria Holmlund
Centre for Relationship Marketing and Service Management (CERS)
Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland
[email protected]

Professor Anders Gustafsson
CTF, Karlstad University, Sweden
anders.gustafs[email protected]


Forkmann, S., Henneberg, S. C., Witell, L., & Kindström, D. (2017). Driver Configurations for Successful Service Infusion. Journal of Service Research, 20(3), 275-291.
Martin, C. L. (2012). A quarter of a century: reflections of the first 25 years of the Journal of Services Marketing. Journal of Services Marketing, 26(1), 3-8.
Ordenes, F. V., Theodoulidis, B., Burton, J., Gruber, T., & Zaki, M. (2014). Analyzing customer experience feedback using text mining: A linguistics-based approach. Journal of Service Research, 17(3), 278-295.
Macdonald, E. K., Kleinaltenkamp, M., & Wilson, H. N. (2016). How business customers judge solutions: Solution quality and value in use. Journal of Marketing, 80(3), 96-120.
Scandura, T. A., & Williams, E. A. (2000). Research methodology in management: Current practices, trends, and implications for future research. Academy of Management journal, 43(6), 1248-1264.
Scudder, G. D., & Hill, C. A. (1998). A review and classification of empirical research in operations management. Journal of Operations Management, 16(1), 91-101.
Voss, C., Tsikriktsis, N., & Frohlich, M. (2002). Case research in operations management. International journal of operations & production management, 22(2), 195-219.
Yang, Z., Wang, X., & Su, C. (2006). A review of research methodologies in international business. International Business Review, 15(6), 601-617.