2–5 February 2021


Long Paper

Unpacking the nature of social structures as the materials of service design


Presenting Author(s): Josina Vink, Kaisa Koskela-Huotari
04 February 2021

Please be aware that multiple presentations will take place during this session commencing at 05:00PM AEDT and share the same zoom link. Check how presentations are clustered in the program spreadsheet when adding the calendar.

Service design is increasingly broadening its focus from creating intangible offerings to shaping service systems. This shift calls for a re-examination of the materials of service design. The traditional emphasis on touchpoints and service interfaces reflects a reductionist approach that leaves service design practitioners tinkering with disconnected parts, rather than addressing the service system as a whole. While historically social structures, such as norms, rules, roles and beliefs, have been seen as externalities in service design, a focus on shaping service systems brings them into the spotlight. The purpose of this paper is to build a more holistic understanding of service design materials to enable a systemic service design practice. Drawing from institutional theory, this paper develops a conceptual framework of service design materials that situates the traditional materials as the physical enactments of institutionalized social structures. The framework deconstructs the nature of service design materials by suggesting that they are all comprised of regulative, normative, and cultural-cognitive elements and have specific contradictory properties. Building on this understanding, the paper presents a practical tool called the Iceberg Blueprint of Social Structures that can help service design practitioners to expose the social structures constituting service systems.

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Josina Vink
Josina Vink
Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Josina Vink is an Associate Professor in service design at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) and Design Lead within the Center for Connected Care (C3) in Norway. Josina’s research explores how design can create profound and significant change in healthcare by reshaping social structures. She recently finished her PhD on service ecosystem design at the Service Research Center (CTF) in Karlstad University, Sweden as a Fellow of the European Union’s Marie Curie Horizon 2020 program within the Service Design for Innovation Network (SDIN). In addition, she has worked for ten years as a service and system designer in health and care, including at the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation in the United States and the Center for Addition and Mental Health in Canada. In her practice, she has developed new services, supported policy change, facilitated shifts in practices across sectors, and led social lab processes.

Kaisa Koskela-Huotari
Kaisa Koskela-Huotari
Karlstad University

Kaisa Koskela-Huotari is an Assistant Professor in Business Administration at Karlstad Business School and the CTF, Service Research Center of Karlstad University. Kaisa’s research interests lie at the intersection of service-dominant logic, institutional theory, and systems thinking. In her work, she uses these perspectives to inform the understandings of innovation, design and market evolution. Her research is published in the Journal of Business Research, Journal of Service Management, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Journal of Strategic Marketing, and Service Science. Kaisa also serves as the Assistant Editor of the AMS Review, the only marketing journal that focuses exclusively on conceptual articles.