This list represents a summary of the past forty years of service design literature. The citations were compiled from the Emergence conference at Carnegie Mellon University as well as the Designing for Services project in the UK, service design syllabi at CMU and independent research. I've included the abstracts and introductions to the papers and cross-referenced examples and concepts so that it's easy to follow the development of ideas such as "service blueprinting" across multiple papers.

Select any underlined term to filter the list, showing only papers that share that particular concept, example, author, journal or decade. If you'd like to help fill in the gaps by suggesting other canonical papers, e-mail the citations to service at Thanks!

Filter: Papers that mention "Innovation" | View all papers
The Service Concept: The Missing Link in Service Design Research?
Journal of Operations Management, 2002
Susan Goldstein
From the article: "The service concept plays a key role in service design and development. But while the term is used frequently in the service design and new service development literature, surprisingly little has been written about the service concept itself and its important role in service design and development. The service concept defines the how and the what of service design, and helps mediate between customer needs and an organization’s strategic intent. We define the service concept and describe how it can be used to enhance a variety of service design processes. As illustrations here, we apply the service concept to service design planning and service recovery design processes. Employing the service concept as an important driver of service design decisions raises a number of interesting questions for research which are discussed here."
Cheaper, Faster, Easier: Disruption in the Service Sector
Strategy & Innovation, 2004
Clayton Christensen
From the article: "New developments in health care, higher education, and the law are just the beginning. Most people think of disruptive innovations--the simple, cheap, convenient advancements that create new growth--as tangible products. However, service-related businesses face the same circumstances that drive disruption in product-related businesses, such as the pressure to improve to serve leading customers better and the presence of "nonconsumers" who seek to do for themselves what they historically paid an expert to do. As such, service-related businesses teem with the potential for disruption."

Examples: Health Care, Education, Law, Kmart, Wal-Mart, QuickMedx, University of Phoenix, Concord Law School, eLawForum

Service Blueprinting: A Practical Technique for Service Innovation
California Management Review, 2008
Mary Jo Bitner

Examples: Hotels, Yellow Transportation, ARAMARK Parks & Resorts, Marie Stopes International Global Partnership, San Francisco Giants

Compare with:
Blueprinting the Service Company: Managing the Service Processes Efficiently
How to Design a Service
Designing product/service systems: A methodological exploration
Relational Services
Knowledge, Technology and Policy, 2008
Carla Cipolla
From the article: "Recent research projects have looked for social innovations, i.e., people creating solutions outside the mainstream patterns of production and consumption. An analysis of these innovations indicates the emergence of a particular kind of service configuration—defined here as relational services—which requires intensive interpersonal relations to operate. Based on a comparative analysis between standard and relational services, we propose to the Service Design discipline an interpretative framework able to reinforce its ability to deal with the interpersonal relational qualities in services, indicating how these qualities can be understood and favored by design activities, as well as the limits of this design intervention. Martin Buber's conceptual framework is presented as the main interpretative basis. Buber describes two ways of interacting ("I-Thou" and "I-It"). Relational services are those most favoring "I-Thou" interpersonal encounters. "

Examples: Living Room Restaurant, Walking Bus, School Bus, McDonalds

Service Research Priorities in a Rapidly Changing Context
Journal of Service Research, 2015
Amy Ostrom
From the article: "The context in which service is delivered and experienced has, in many respects, fundamentally changed. For instance, advances in technology, especially information technology, are leading to a proliferation of revolutionary services and changing how customers serve themselves before, during, and after purchase. To understand this changing landscape, the authors engaged in an international and interdisciplinary research effort to identify research priorities that have the potential to advance the service field and benefit customers, organizations, and society. The priority-setting process was informed by roundtable discussions with researchers affiliated with service research centers and networks located around the world and resulted in 12 service research priorities. For each priority, the authors identified important specific service topics and related research questions."

Examples: Rolls-Royce, Experio Lab, Zynga, Zappos, Mamma Mia, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, M-Pesa