The 17th International research symposium on service excellence in management (QUIS17) was arranged on 12-15 January in Valencia, Spain.
In 1988 a small group of researchers from Sweden and US decided that they would meet and talk about their challenges in terms of research on service organizations. Service was, back then, a niche topic with only a smaller number of scholars and companies interested. Few of them, I believe, visualized that this international meeting still would be going on, and even defy a worldwide pandemic, for the 17th time in the beginning of 2022. (Read about the history of QUIS here.) The 17th International research symposium on service excellence in management (QUIS17), originally scheduled for 18-21 June 2021 at VinUniversity, Hanoi, Vietnam, was arranged on 12-15 January in Valencia, Spain.
For obvious reasons, QUIS17 was a smaller conference in terms of numbers in comparison to the normal QUIS-conferences that we have had. I estimate that we were around 80-90 persons this time and that approximately 30-40 persons participated online during the two-day conference.
The venue of QUIS17 was the beautiful city of Valencia and more precisely the Universitat Politècnico de València (UPV) with Mariaval Segarra-Oña and Angel Peiro Signes as local hosts. Rohit Verma and myself (Per Kristensson) participated as co-hosts for QUIS as Cornell University and Karlstad University (and Arizona State University) represent the founding universities of QUIS.
The experience of QUIS17
The conference was, as always, a perfect combination of people who wanted to share their research, but also support in terms of ideas and affirmation, to other researchers. The welcoming and open climate has always been a hallmark of QUIS. Another important hallmark, a reoccurring characteristic of QUIS, regards the mix of business and public organizations and researchers. Unlike other conferences, service conferences have always been careful about the situation that research should do the wider society a service, namely by helping various organizations with the challenges they are facing. This year, we therefore took part of how Covid-19 had affected the hotel industry and the airline business in the region, and also how new jeans are produced in an ecological and sustainable way.
In terms of research presentations, my choice many times fell on the many interesting cases of ecosystems and sustainability. These two concepts, that also fit well together, were the more prominent ones that I remember from listening to concurrent sessions. Ecosystems implies a systemic view where value is cocreated within multi-actor exchange systems. The meaning of ecosystems, examples of it in different sectors, and its relevance for a sustainable future was discussed at the presentations I attended. In terms of sustainability, the feeling is that this area, for a number of years to come, will play the same importance for service researchers as concepts as loyalty or encounters previously has played.
“Service is not a niche field anymore”
Summing up I note that service research really has made the move that was called out by Steve Vargo and Bob Lusch in 2004. Service is not a niche field anymore, the number of sectors that was researched, the influence of different academic perspectives, the plethora of scientific methods, all point to the fact that service today is a perspective on how individuals, organizations and societies create value. With these impressions in mind, I left the beautiful city of Valencia with feeling very good.
Professor and director of Service Research Center, Karlstad University CERS Senior fellow, Hanken School of Economics