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Mandatory Fields
Grace, A.
Service Co-creation: A Theory Building Case Study
Optional Fields
service co-creation service co-production complex services complex decision making collaborative decision making shared decision making decision support systems information systems

An extensive review of the literature reveals a dearth of research on how complex services are collaboratively customised (i.e. co-created) between service professionals and individual clients. In particular, there is a paucity of research on how information systems can support the type of information sharing and joint decision making that characterises service co-creation. This poses a significant constraint on organisations who are encountering a growing demand for co-created services from clients, who are well educated and highly informed.

A theory building approach is now needed in order to develop a deeper understanding of how complex services are co-created with individual clients and the role of information systems in this type of service. The IS discipline offers a valuable perspective for the development of this theory because of its focus on people, process and technology and because of its concern with the use of information systems to support decision making.

This study adopts a post-positivist theory building approach to developing a theory of service co-creation.  It first employs activity theory as a molar theory to identify the high level constructs that enable service co-creation, by examining the factors that mediate the activity of service co-creation between a service professional and a client.  Extant literature across a range of disciplines (including IS, psychology, services, marketing and service science) is then reviewed in order to transform these high level constructs into a conceptual model and theoretical propositions. Subsequently, a single case study on the co-creation of financial services in Ireland is undertaken in order to validate and further refine this model, thereby developing the study’s theory of service co-creation.

The study contributes to IS theory and practice by: (i) improving our understanding of the role of information systems in service co-creation; (ii) exposing some of the limitations of current information systems in supporting the co-creation of complex services with individual clients; and (iii) demonstrating the efficacy of employing activity theory in IS research on complex phenomena. The study also has implications for other disciplines including services, marketing and service science. It provides a scientific measure for service co-creation and presents an empirically based theory of service co-creation, which helps to explain the factors that enable service co-creation, as well as how they enable service co-creation.

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