Service Operations: What’s Next?

Published In

Journal of Service Management

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present exciting and innovative research questions in service operations that are aligned with eight key themes and related topics determined by the Journal of Service Management (JOSM) Service Operations Expert Research Panel. By offering a good number of such research questions, this paper provides a broad range of ideas to spur conceptual and empirical research related to service operations and encourage the continued creation of deep knowledge within the field, as well as collaborative research across disciplines that develops and incorporates insights from service operations.

Design/methodology/approach: Based on a Delphi study, described in the companion article, “Service Operations: What Have We Learned?,” the panel identified eight key research themes in service operations where leading-edge research is being done or has yet to be done (Victorino et al., 2018). In this paper, three or four topics within each theme are selected and multiple questions for each topic are proposed to guide research efforts. The topics and questions, while wide-ranging, are only representative of the many ongoing research opportunities related to service operations.

Findings: The field of service operations has many interesting research topics and questions that are largely unexplored. Furthermore, these research areas are not only increasingly integrative across multiple themes within operations but often transcend functional disciplines. This creates opportunities for ever more impactful research with a greater reach throughout the service system and suggests that service researchers, regardless of functional affiliation, can contribute to the ongoing conversation on the role of service operations in value creation.

Originality/value: Leveraging the collective knowledge of the JOSM Service Operations Expert Research Panel to expand on the research themes generated from the Delphi study, novel questions for future study are put forward. Recognizing that the number of potential research questions is virtually unlimited, summary questions by theme and topic are also provided. These questions represent a synopsis of the individual questions and can serve as a quick reference guide for researchers interested in pursuing new directions in conceptual and empirical research in service operations. This summary also serves as a framework to facilitate the formulation of additional research topics and questions.


© Emerald Publishing Limited



Persistent Identifier