Service-driven business transformation


Guest Editors:

Kristina Heinonen,
Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland

Jose L. Ruiz-Alba,
University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom

David Sörhammar,
Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Submissions open: 1 October 2022
Submission deadline: 6 March 2023

There are multiple challenges that threaten the world, such as pandemics, wars, financial crises, chronic diseases, poverty, inequality, social injustice, discrimination, obesity, etc. Researchers have created several initiatives to improve upon these issues in marketing, for example by emphasizing marketing’s role in enhancing the welfare of the world’s stakeholders and institutions (Chandy et al. 2021). This reasoning is also echoed in other research, arguing that marketing should take on a stronger strategic role by defining organizations’ bigger social purpose (Homburg et al. 2020; Lewnes & Keller, 2019). A social purpose is a key for sustaining and enhancing business performance and as a driver of growth, but more importantly, for contributing to societal resilience. Much of these potential transformative outcomes are based on a service logic focused on “creating uplifting changes and improvements of individuals (consumers and employees), families, social networks, communities, cities, nations, collectives, and ecosystems” (Anderson et al. 2011). 

The persistent disruption in society challenges the prerequisites of businesses across industries. While technology is one key factor enabling transformative outcomes (Breidbach et al., 2019; Lähteenmäki et al., 2017), there are other issues in the surrounding environment that may provide the impetus for organizational change: “We usually associate an industry’s transformation with the adoption of a new technology. But although new technologies are often major factors, they have never transformed an industry on their own. What does achieve such a transformation is a business model that can link a new technology to an emerging market need” (Kavadias et al., 2016:92). In this disruptive landscape, it has become increasingly important for firms to be sensitive to emergent market needs and customers’ behavioral changes and to extend to the broader stakeholder context for innovation and sustainability endeavors (van Riel et al., 2021; Heinonen and Strandvik, 2021). There are sectors and industries such as healthcare and education, that have an explicit transformative mission and intent (Rosenbaum et al. 2011) but it is important to understand how other service firms can incorporate transformative outcomes in their strategic goals.

The overarching aim of this special issue is to address how businesses can cope with and alleviate this constant turbulence and increasing demands from the surrounding environment. It is necessary to adopt service-driven business transformation, which involves integrating service thinking into every area of the business including strategies, operations, technologies and employees. It often requires the integration of all actors in the ecosystem/network, internally at the organization and externally toward suppliers, customers, as well as society at large. In this context, another objective is to advance the limited extant research on the company’s role and possibility to develop positive change in society. Strategies and approaches for such transformative changes are clearly needed. For example, a recent study shows that business transformation, such as digital transformation, fails in 80% of the cases to provide the expected improvements (Wielgos et al., 2021). Therefore, it is important to advance the understanding about the potential of service strategies to transform the life of individuals and societies and to bring forward positive examples of how these changes can occur. Examples of open questions include: How can we integrate all actors in creating value for customers and society? What are the main capabilities for transformative service strategies? How can we drive the change from the marketing function? How can service design drive transformation?

Scope of the special issue:
This special issue seeks to publish innovative papers that address 1) service-driven business transformation and 2) the role of service in creating transformative change within companies and beyond. We encourage critical discussion of the extant conceptualization of service-driven transformation and a deeper understanding about the antecedents and consequences, measurement instruments, performance indicators and actor involvement in the design and development of these transformational processes through service. We also welcome papers using multi-actor perspectives that help break fresh ground in the understanding of how companies can develop, implement and support transformative service strategies to better serve their customers and other stakeholders and to create transformative outcomes for customers and society broadly. We also are interested in the development of frameworks and models for a better understanding of the antecedents and consequences of transformative service.

We encourage research both about service-driven transformation and about transformative outcomes/change. We welcome both conceptual and empirical papers with strong theoretical and practical contribution to service research.

Indicative themes for the Special Issue are, for example:

  • Organizational capabilities of service-driven business transformation
  • Service strategies for transformation
  • Service design and innovation for transformation
  • Transformative outcomes on customers and firms
  • Performance measures of the transformative service strategies
  • Transformation for sustainability and responsible consumption
  • Customer Dominant Logic and service transformation
  • Wellbeing programs for employees and customers
  • Transformation for customer engagement in a B2B context
  • Resource interaction for service transformation
  • Inter-functional coordination and resource integration for service transformation
  • Corporate volunteering and employee’s transformation

Important Note

There will be a Special Track “Service-driven business transformation” at the International Conference on Business and Industrial Marketing (CBIM2022) in June 2022. While thematically connected, attending the conference is not obligatory in order to submit to this special issue. Please visit the conference website for further details

Key Dates

Platform is open for submissions: 1 October 2022.
Deadline for the submission of papers: 6th of March, 2023

All the papers for this special issue must be submitted on JSTP submission system ( and will go through the regular double-blind peer review process followed by the journal.

Papers submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or presently be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Articles should not exceed a word limit of 8000 words (all-inclusive) and must make a contribution to service theory and practice. Please ensure that your papers follow the JSTP author guidelines available here:

Guest co-editors:
For any queries, please, contact any of the guest editors:

Kristina Heinonen: [email protected]

Jose L. Ruiz-Alba: [email protected]

David Sörhammar: [email protected]


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Berry, Leonard L., Ann M. Mirabito, and William B. Baun (2010), “What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs,” Harvard Business Review, (December), 1-9.

Breidbach, C. F., Keating, B. W., & Lim, C. (2019). Fintech: research directions to explore the digital transformation of financial service systems. Journal of Service Theory and Practice. 30 (1), 79-102,

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Heinonen, K.Strandvik, T.Mickelsson, K.Edvardsson, B.Sundström, E. and Andersson, P. (2010), "A customer‐dominant logic of service", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 531-548.

Heinonen, K. and Strandvik, T. (2021), "Reframing service innovation: COVID-19 as a catalyst for imposed service innovation", Journal of Service Management, 32 (1), pp. 101-112.

Ho, B. Q., & Shirahada, K. (2021). Actor transformation in service: a process model for vulnerable consumers. Journal of Service Theory and Practice31(4), 534-562.

Holmlund, M., Strandvik, T. and Lähteenmäki, I. (2017), "Digitalization challenging institutional logics: Top executive sensemaking of service business change", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 27 (1), 219-236.

Homburg, C., Theel, M., & Hohenberg, S. (2020). Marketing Excellence: Nature, Measurement, and Investor Valuations. Journal of Marketing, 84(4), 1-22.

Kavadias, S., Ladas, K., & Loch, C. (2016). The transformative business model. Harvard business review, 94(10), 91-98.

Lewnes, A., & Keller, K. (2019). 10 principles of modern marketing: MIT Sloan Management Review.

Mick, David G. (2006), “Meaning and Mattering Through Transformative Consumer Research,” Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 33, 1-4.

Rosenbaum, M., Corus, C., Ostrom, A., Anderson, L., Fisk, R., Gallan, A., Giraldo, M., Mende, M., Mulder, M., Rayburn, S. and Shirahada, K., (2011). Conceptualisation and aspirations of transformative service research. Journal of Research for Consumers, 19, 1-6.

Ruiz-Alba, J.L.Guesalaga, R.Ayestarán, R. and Morales Mediano, J. (2020), "Interfunctional coordination: the role of digitalization", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 404-419.

van Riel, A., Andreassen, T., Lervik-Olsen, L., Zhang, L., Mithas, S.  and Heinonen, K. (2021). A customer-centric five actor model for sustainability and service innovation, Journal of Business Research, 136 (November), 389-401

Wielgos, D.M., Homburg, C. and Kuehnl, C. (2021), “Digital business capability: its impact on firm and customer performance, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 49:762–789