Business School researchers set global agenda to guide service innovation research

7 Dec 2021

Maintaining humanness in the age of AI and robotics, as well as wellbeing, and emotional connection are prevalent themes that emerged in a University of Queensland (UQ) study designed set the future of service research priorities globally.

Business School Janet McColl-Kennedy
Professor Janet McColl-Kennedy 

The UQ Business School study undertaken by Service Innovation Alliance Co Lead Professor Janet McColl-Kennedy, and collaborators in the US, Europe and Asia, highlighted that the service sector is experiencing tectonic shifts resulting from technological innovations, demands for social justice, climate change, and the global pandemic.

“We examined priorities related to significant changes in the world that urgently require attention and further research,” Professor McColl-Kennedy said.

“Services need to evolve to be robust to persistent turbulence, which requires a comprehensive re-examination and extension of service scholarship and practice.”

The study used data from surveys of service researchers and practitioners from 18 countries, online documents analysed through machine learning, and round table discussions at international service research centres, including UQ’s Service Innovation Alliance Research Hub to identify four key service research priorities.

The first two service research priorities – technology and the changing nature of work, and technology and the customer experience – focus on leveraging technology for service provision and consumption while maintaining humanness.

“The technology research priorities look to further provide answers to questions, such as, will jobs be eliminated or created as technologies continue to advance? And how it will affect employees,” Professor McColl-Kennedy said.

The other two priorities – resource and capability constraints, and customer proactivity for wellbeing – focus on responding to the changing needs of multiple stakeholders and designing sustainable service ecosystems.

“The issues identified in the four service research priorities represent critical areas requiring innovation, which demand multi-disciplinary approaches to have significant impact,” said Professor McColl-Kennedy.

“These research priority areas offers hope and opportunity for customers to have more information, transparency, and agency, as well as bear a greater responsibility for their well-being across all service domains.”

Professor McColl-Kennedy was recently recognised in the most Highly Cited Researcher Awards for 2021, released by Clarivate™. She was cited in the top 1 per cent for Economics and Business on a global level – one of only two scholars in Australia listed in the category.

For more information contact: Janet McColl Kennedy,, 07 334 68178.