JMM Special Issue Call for Papers: Deadline for submissions 5 September 2022

Service research in an age of crises: (re)building sustainable services

Guest Editors: Josephine Go Jefferies, Newcastle University Business School, UK; Mekhail Mustak, Turku School of Economics, Finland; Loïc Plé, IESEG School of Management, France; Per Skålén, Karlstad University Business School, Sweden

We are living in a time of turbulence and crises. Climate change, rising economic inequality, widespread work-related mental illness, the Covid-19 pandemic, poverty, and gender inequality are just a few examples of the various types of crises that humanity is currently facing. In this special issue, we encourage service research to contribute long-term, sustainable solutions in addressing contemporary crises.

There are multiple possibilities to do so. Relying on the large body of literature that has investigated value co-creation (Grönroos & Voima 2013; Vargo & Lusch 2016) as one of the solutions to the crises we face can obviously be considered (Ratten et al., 2021). Given the unlikeliness of a single actor resolving the common problems we face, research on service ecosystems may also prove useful in providing insight into how interconnected actors co-create value in mutually beneficial ways. (Breidbach & Brodie 2017; Vargo & Lusch 2016). Additionally, research on service innovation that focuses on multiple actors may aid in resolving current crises (Chandler et al. 2019). Considering Transformative Service Research (TSR) may also provide further insights, as it focuses on enhancing well-being through service for actors that are frequently overlooked and excluded (Anderson et al. 2013, Gallan et al. 2019), resulting in a better and more sustainable alignment of providers’ and customers’ interests. Accordingly, this call welcomes submissions that address crises by extending works on value co-creation, service innovation, service ecosystems, and TSR.

It is critical to remember, however, that service research suffers from a “co-creation myopia” caused by the concept of balanced interests among interacting actors who benefit equally from value co-creation (Plé 2016, p. 154). Informed by this limitation, an increasing amount of research has shown that value is not just co-created but may also be co-destroyed (Echeverri & Skålén 2021; Plé & Chumpitaz Cáceres 2010). Research on value co-destruction addresses differences, conflicts, and power dynamics that are missed by mainstream co-creation research (Chowdhury et al., 2016; Mustak & Plé 2020). Similarly, some TSR studies have indicated that services regularly fail to realise benefits for multiple actors (Boenigk et al. 2020, 2021) and eventually result in co-destruction because of the resource-intensive input required from co-creating customers (Anderson et al. 2016; Bone et al. 2014; Azzari et al. 2021). Thus, customers effectively become laborers who contribute to the creation of value but are not compensated for it (Cova & Dalli 2009; Corsaro 2020). This brings up several issues concerning value appropriation that are often overlooked in service research. Moreover, it casts doubt on the emphasis of value-in-use over value-in-exchange in existing service research. As such, we welcome studies that challenge established frameworks of value and value co-creation in addressing potential, viable, and long-term solutions to crises.

Additionally, crises can be addressed through further reliance on critical enabling theories. Service research has increasingly drawn on institutional theory. However, other enabling theories can also be used to enrich our understanding of crises and how to solve them, such as cognitive state theory, feminist theory, strategic action field theory, practice theory, convention theory, critical theory, assemblage theory, job crafting and affordance theory (Azzari et al. 2021; Butler 2021; Gorey et al. 2008; Skålén et al. 2015; Smith et al. 2020; Trauger & Fluri 2014; Varman et al. 2021). Furthermore, critics have questioned the neoliberal and capitalist worldviews that underpin value co-creation which privileges the market as the solution to crises (Hietanen et al. 2018; Tadajewski & Jones 2021). The community of service researchers may wish to be more reflective about the limitations of market approaches and their impact on scholarly work during times of crisis (Contu 2020). Adopting other conventions, such as regimes of agape or divine love (Varman et al. 2021), and grounding service studies in these alternatives may help avert crises by generating new, more sustainable models of service.

This call welcomes both theoretical research and empirical studies. Indeed, every single service’s activity is likely affected, positively or negatively, by the profound and diverse array of crises. Health care, outsourcing, the circular economy, transportation, food waste, financial services, and technology are examples of topics that can be re-approached by focusing on how crises are addressed. We also strongly encourage contributions in the areas of public services, food banks, refuges, news media and information provision, cases of bottom-up activism, voluntarism and self-organising social movements, and top-down cross-sector crisis response services. We equally welcome any kind of methodology – qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods.

In sum, we invite service research in an age of crises that contributes to (re)building sustainable service research for society as a whole. The special issue accepts papers that build on and extend existing service research, as well as those that draw on enabling theories from other fields. Papers can be conceptual or empirical but should provide strong theoretical contributions and managerial or societal implications. Empirical papers can rely on any research method and address contexts that have already been studied within service research or new, even atypical contexts. Research that is submitted to this special issue can focus on the following broad research questions but should not be limited by them:

  • How can we conceptualise the nature and concept of crisis in service research and service contexts?
  • How can we address crises by drawing on notions of value co-creation and service ecosystems?
  • What is the role of service innovation in creating a sustainable society?
  • How can we understand value in the age of crisis? What are the roles of value-in-use and value-in-exchange?
  • What is the role of conflict and power in addressing the current crises? How can we better understand crises by drawing on notions of power and conflict?
  • How can we use different enabling theories in service research to address the many crises we face?
  • How can novel empirical studies shed light on the crises we encounter and contribute to solving them?
  • How do social inequalities pertaining to gender, race, class, etc. surface in service sectors, and what can be done to create equal opportunities?
  • How can service researchers address issues of economic inequality?
  • How can service researchers contribute with conceptual or empirical-based solutions to climate change?
  • What alternatives can service researchers propose to markets?
  • What are the consequences of low-tech enabled service in marginalised and bottom-of-the-pyramid contexts?

Submission Requirements:
Authors should submit manuscripts of between 8,000–10,000 words (excluding tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes). All submissions must strictly follow the guidelines for the Journal of Marketing Management. These are available at:

Manuscripts should be submitted online using the Journal of Marketing Management ScholarOne Manuscripts site ( New users should first create an account. Once a user is logged onto the site submissions should be made via the Author Centre. Authors should prepare and upload two versions of their manuscript. One should be a complete text, while in the second all document information identifying the author should be removed from the files to allow them to be sent anonymously to referees. When uploading files authors will then be able to define the non-anonymous version as “Complete paper with author details”, and the anonymous version as “Main document minus author information”. To submit your manuscript to the Special Issue choose “Special Issue Article” from the Manuscript Type list when you come to submit your paper. Also, when you come to the ‘Details and Comments’ page, answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is this manuscript a candidate for a special issue’ and select the Special Issue Title of Service research in an age of crises in the text field provided.

Please direct any questions about the submission process to the guest editors.

• Dr Josephine Go Jefferies
• Dr Mekhail Mustak
• Dr Loïc Plé
• Professor Per Skålén

The closing date for submissions is 5 September 2022.

Technical queries about submissions can be referred to the Editorial Office:


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Anderson, L., Spanjol, J., Go Jefferies, J., Ostrom, A. L., Nations Baker, C., Bone, S. A., Downey, H., Mende, M., & Rapp, J. M. (2016). Responsibility and well-being: Resource integration under responsibilization in expert services. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 35(2), 262–279.
Azzari, C. N., Anderson, L., Mende, M., Go Jefferies, J., Downey, H., Ostrom, A. L., & Spanjol, J. (2021). Consumers on the job: Contextualization crafting in expert services. Journal of Service Research, 109467052110124.
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