Innovation in the Services Sector: Towards a New Typological Theory




Kallas-Zelek, Kadri

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This dissertation studies the sources and patterns of innovation in the services sector. A typological theory of service innovations and their respective innovation patterns is developed to address the lack of a theoretical basis in prior service innovation classifications. It is propositioned that the differences in service innovation patterns will manifest themselves along two characteristics of an innovative service concept: the sources of innovation ideas and the standardization of service. A theory-based inductive, qualitative, building block approach will be adopted for the typological theory development. The technological trajectories theory, the resource-based view of the firm, and the systems of innovation research tradition will be drawn on for specifying the expected innovation patterns by types of service innovations. Two service innovation types out of four in the typological theory are be subjected to empirical analysis by the method of focused, structured case comparison which also combines within-case analysis. Case studies of service concept innovations in four Estonian companies are conducted. The results of the empirical analysis indicate that differences in innovations patterns can be discerned between the two types of innovations with regard to their reliance on the external actors and resources of innovation, whereas a "winning" pattern of in-house organization of the innovation process appears to emerge that is common to both types of innovations. Policy recommendations that are formulated are carried by the idea that, for fostering innovation in the services, the curricula and syllabi of higher education institutions must be better aligned with the needs for professional knowledge by the service firms, and they must provide insight into the frontiers of research in the pertinent fields of study. The contribution of this dissertation to the scholarship of services innovation is seen in its fine specification of concepts and a well-delineated focus of case studies, which form a strong basis for finer measurement practices in potential continuation research projects.



Public policy, Management, Social research, Innovation, Innovation policy, Innovation process, Services, Typological theory