Service as an Object

Managers and technologists are not generally aware of Service Science approaches or Service Dominant Logic. Organisational people think and talk in terms of "processes". They may talk in terms of products of processes, but the key conceptual framework of service science - that it is the service, not the process, which is the primary object - is not understood.

This suggests that we may suffer from the problem of objects, as described by Law and Singleton [1]. The actors in the organisation may be unable to pass on their knowledge due to ontological issues.

[A]n object that doesn’t look like an object because our methods aren’t geared up to detect or know it. [1]

Law and Singleton analyse this, and suggest new methods are required to think about the nature of objects in the world. From actor-network theory (ANT), they suggest that we need to consider immutable mobiles. Following Latour, they suggest that empires (including organisations or service systems? AM), are held together by immutable mobiles circulating in and through narrow networks.

Another lesson from actor-network theory for Law and Singleton is that:

[M]any objects putatively located in physical space can only be detected in a network of relations that makes them visible [1] {emphisis in original}.

Law and Singleton go on to describe mutable objects, in particular fluid objects that flows and gently changes over time.

In analysing service, we should take into account these ANT based considerations. Are we dealing with a shape changing object? Is it immutable, or mutable? Is it mobile or fixed? And a necessary focus on understanding service as an object, and not just as a definition.

1. Law, J. & Singleton, V. 2005, 'Object Lessons', Organization, vol. 12, no. 8, pp. 331-355.
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