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Do Academia and Business World See Service Technology the Same Way? – A Text-Mining Approach
Authors: Ruud Wetzels (Maastricht), Jos Lemmink (Maastricht), Werner Kunz (University of Massachusetts Boston, USA), Kristina Heinonen (Hanken School of Economics), Martin Wetzels (Maastricht)
In recent years, technology has radically transformed how individuals, businesses and society function. Technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things, digital media, virtual and augmented reality improve companies’ capabilities and drastically change the customer experience. Whether one looks at business-to-consumer or business-to-business service settings, technology is taking center stage.
The sheer speed of technological advancements is pushing both academia and business equally to reimagine their existing frameworks. To systematically benefit from these advancements, it is crucial to focus our research activities on these new service fields. In the last years, many calls have been voiced for more research on service technologies (Corsaro et al. 2018; Heinonen et al. 2018; Hollebeek et al. 2018; Hollebeek and Belk 2018; Huang and Rust 2013; Kunz et al. 2018; Kunz and Walsh 2018; Mele and McDavid 2018; Paluch and Wirtz 2018;).
Given service technology’s relevance for academia and business, it is critical to explore whether the understanding of service technologies is aligned between academia and business or if researchers and managers develop their field in different directions. Therefore, we compare the content of articles in academic and business publication outlets from the last two years (Kunz et al. 2019). For the academic perspective, we filtered technology-related articles in 33 service- and non-service specific journals based on the SERVSIG Service Literature Alert System as well as proceedings of the Frontiers and SERVSIG conferences to get insights of future work in progress. For the business perspective, we focused on technology-related articles in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, and Business Horizon as well as more recent developments in business magazines like The Economist, TED Talks and Fast Company. In total, we analyzed 5,118 technology-related articles.
We relied on text mining to develop a structured overview for 1) service journals, 2) service conferences, 3) business journals, and 4) business (technology) magazines based on article abstracts. Using this segmentation, it is possible to gain an overview of the current academic and business articles regarding service technology, but also to determine potential future trends based on conference papers and business (technology) magazine articles which are by nature more forward-looking. For instance, one of our results suggests that service journals seem to rather acknowledge the role of technologies instead of studying them in applied settings or discussing real implications of specific technologies. In comparison, business magazine articles address many more concrete technologies, but the discussion is less about actual managerial and consumer issues and consequences.
Our research shows clear differences in perspective on service technologies in academia and business. Our approach enables us to identify research areas that can help to align business and academia for mutual benefit. More implications are discussed in the paper.