Magazine article Journal of Services Research

Building a New Academic Field in India: The Case of Services Marketing

Magazine article Journal of Services Research

Building a New Academic Field in India: The Case of Services Marketing

Article excerpt


The paper highlights the increasing role of services in an economy. The following figure indicates the flow of ideas in this paper.


The last quarter of the twentieth century will always be remembered for having introduced us to the magic and all-pervasiveness of services sector. In a way, it was a reminder to all of us that the world is no longer dominated by the goods and manufacturing sector. It has been replaced by a newer and more dynamic sector- the services sector. It also signaled, among other things, that future progress and prosperity would come from services industries (US Department of Commerce, 1993). Consider for instance, the following:

* Two out of every three persons are now employed in a service firm.

* Over seventy percent of new job openings to the fresh technical/ business graduates of India came from service industries (Business Today, New Delhi).

* Services sector has been billed as the fastest growing sector in India since 1996. In fact, service industries like media and knowledge-based process industries, recorded as high as 20 to 40 percent annual growth in the last five years. (CMIE, 1998).

* The current confidence in the global stock markets is largely due to potential growth in service sector including IT.

* The growth of services industries now serves as a new index of a nation's development.

* The value package most desired by customers now necessarily includes a service element. The package has ceased to be mere goods (physical objects) and now demands services (add-on benefits).

* According to some research studies ( Agrawal, 2000), the elemental dominance of service has increased four times in the overall bundling of a solution for the Indian consumers.

* Services industries offer more employment opportunities and thus, in all likelihood, would be the ideal sector for heavily populated countries like India.

It has been said conventionally that services touch the core of our life. Now, services happen to touch the core of business life as well.

Defining Services: Unique and yet converging

Defining services has never been easy (Rathmall, 1966; Bateson, 1979; Berry 1980; Longford 1998). Conceptualized in the early definitions of the American Marketing Association (1966), as bondage (add on) to the physical products, services won independence in seventies. Some of the definitions of services are given below :

* "All actions and reactions that customers perceive they have purchased" Federal Express, (1975).

* "Service is an activity or a series of activities of more or less intangible nature that normally but not necessarily take place in interaction between the customer and service employees and or physical resources or goods and or systems of the service provider which are provided as solutions to the customer problems" Gronroos, (1979).

* "Services are deeds, processes and performances" Zeithaml and Bitner, (1996).

* "Service is anything that cannot be dropped on your foot"- a tongue-in-cheek description offered by Palmer (1998).

* "A service is any benefit or activity that one party can offer to another which is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. It's production may or may not be tied to a physical product" Kotler, (1999).

Clearly, conceptualization of services as a unique area, has been guided by the following five unique characteristics:

* Intangibility

* Heterogeneity

* Non-storability

* Inseparability

* Customer co-production

Of late, several authors question service as a unique concept (Shostack, 1977, Bateson 1990). They have three major concerns in this regard: First, they strongly believe that the so-called unique characteristics of services are in practice not so unique as they are found in goods or objects also. Their second concern is that, since services is a relatively new business discipline, prescribing a traditional dichotomy would only restrict the application of the established marketing strategies to services sector (Longford 1998). …

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