Academic journal article European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Approaching Service Innovation Patterns

Academic journal article European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Approaching Service Innovation Patterns

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Innovation is a concept framed in the field literature by Joseph Schumpeter in his works regarding economic development. Even if Schumpeter first defined innovation more than 70 years ago, there are still some difficulties narrowing the concept due to the approach many authors have. Therefore, some regard innovation as a process, while others limit the definitions and regard innovation only as a result. Another problem encountered is that many approaches of innovation are from a manufacturing perspective, and only a few focus on service innovation. Even if researchers are trying to frame the concept of service innovation, in many of the given definitions they start by narrowing innovation from manufacturing perspective. Service innovation is different from product innovation, first because of service characteristics: intangibility - services cannot be touched, simultaneity - production and consumption take place at the same time in the same place, perishability or the impossibility of stocking services and variability - it is almost impossible to provide identical services twice. Second, there a few factors that particularize innovation such as producer-consumer interaction, structure of service sector - there are many SME's -, or the legislation regarding service activity.

2. Defining Innovation

Schumpeter developed the theory of innovation and defined it as "the setting up of a new production function", that "covers the case of a new commodity, as well as those of a new form of organization such as a merger, of the opening up of new markets, and so on" (Schumpeter, 1939, p.84). Also, according to Schumpeter, innovation "combines factors in a new way, or that it consists in carrying out new combinations" (Schumpeter, 1939).

In time, other definitions of innovation have been framed. In 1983, Rogers defined innovation as "an idea, practice, process, or product that is perceived as new by an individual" (Ottenbacher, 2007 apud Rogers, 1983). Innovation can also be considered as a management discipline that is focused on the organization's mission, that searches unique opportunities, determines organization's fitness to strategic directions and defines the measures for success (Yeh-Yun Lin and Yi-Ching Chen, 2007 apud Gaynor, 2002). Flipo considers that innovation is the process of creating a new customer oriented value, as well as the main judge of enterprises' competitiveness, that can regard the main beneficiaries and other stakeholders such as the organization itself (through employees), shareholders, external partners and so on (Poitier et al, 2005 apud Flipo, 2001).

Another important definition of innovation is the one given by the OECD's Oslo Manual. According to the Oslo Manual, an innovation is "the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations" (Oslo Manual, 2005).

It can be noticed that in all the above mentioned definitions, innovation is narrowed from the manufacturing or production process perspective and not in the service field. Therefore, in this paper we will discuss the service innovation concept starting with the service characteristics and the main studies developed by certain field researchers.

3. Service Innovation Perspectives

In order to define service innovation, it is first necessary to discuss the service concept along with its particularities. Services can be defined as an activity made or developed by some person (called provider) to another person (called customer), in which the last one is not personally satisfying a certain need, instead he "orders" it from a specialist (Jivan and Fruja, 2006).

Gadrey (1992) defines services as "a set of processing operations (...) carried out by a service provider (B) on behalf of a client (A), in a medium (C) held by A, and intended to bring about a change of state in the medium C" (Gallouj and Weinstein, 1997 apud Gadrey, 1992). …

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