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Unlocking the Value of Service Systems. Transforming Uncertainty into Opportunity

  • School: Nottingham Business School
  • Starting: 2021
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Self-funded


Economic research agrees that economies transform into service economies as they grow. But business research has been relatively silent on the impact of service transformation on society and business management (Anderson/ Ostrom, 2015; Barney, 2018; Moorman et al.2019; Ostrom et al. 2015). This project seeks to investigate how service transformation unlocks novel markets, like the sharing economy, internet-of-things, or innovative payment systems (see Ehret/ Wirtz, 2017; Maglio/ Spohrer, 2008). Public policy is putting high hopes in service transformation for enhancing ecological sustainability by reducing emissions of resource use, enhance agility of industries and infrastructures through smart infrastructures, or drive economic development by banking the unbanked through smart mobile payment systems. Business managers are attracted to service markets by the promise of above average profits and relative low volatility of revenues. However, research finds a mixed picture of business performance in service businesses. For example, establishing service businesses frequently leads into cost-traps, promises of smart service business models have been ending in financial and ecological disasters (see NDubisi, Ehret, & Wirtz, 2017). The purpose of this project is to identify strategic approaches that unlock the potential benefits of service approaches and help to mitigate the downsides.

The project aims to address the following major research questions:

  • What antecedents, for example mobile technology platforms or novel business model approaches, drive the rise of service markets?
  • What is the role of business models in shaping serivce markets (e.g. Ehret, Kashyap, & Wirtz, 2013; NDubisi, Ehret, Wirtz, 2017)?
  • What are the genuine value propositions enabled by service systems? Initial examples can be found in industrial internet of things applications (Ehret & Wirtz, 2017, resource sharing or the use of mobile payment systems for banking the unbanked (Anderson/ Ostrom, 2015)?

This field offers opportunities for a variety of research approaches, including theory-building case studies, causal analysis using structured equation modelling, and innovative approaches like multi-agent modelling or real-option analysis. The primary criteria for specifying projects will be commensurate knowledge and capabilities of the doctoral candidates and the expected contribution of the research project. In addition to the doctoral training at NTU doctoral school, candidates will be involved in conferences, summer schools and trainings from the international network of service science researchers with the aim to position contributions for high impact on research, business and society. The project will connected to a research and publication program of the supervisor network (e.g. see Pattinson et al. ).


Anderson, L. & Ostrom, A.L. 2015, "Transformative Service Research: Advancing Our Knowledge About Service and Well-Being", Journal of Service Research, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 243-249.

Barney, J.B. 2018, "Why resource-based theory's model of profit appropriation must incorporate a stakeholder perspective", Strategic Management Journal, vol. 39, no. 13, pp. 3305-3325.

Ehret, M., Kashyap, V. & Wirtz, J. 2013, "Business models: Impact on business markets and opportunities for marketing research", Industrial Marketing Management, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 649-655.

Ehret, M. and Wirtz, J., 2017. Unlocking value from machines: business models and the industrial internet of things. Journal of Marketing Management, 33 (1), 111-130.

Ndubisi, N.O., Ehret, M. & Wirtz, J. 2016, "Relational Governance Mechanisms and Uncertainties in Nonownership Services", Psychology & Marketing, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 250-266.

Ostrom, A.L., Parasuraman, A., Bowen, D.E., Patrício, L. & Voss, C.A. 2015, "Service Research Priorities in a Rapidly Changing Context", Journal of Service Research, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 127-159.

Pattinson, Steve/ Nicholson, John/ Ehret, Michael/ Velu, Chander/ Ryan, Paul: Call for Papers “Innovation Ecosystems”
Maglio, P.P. and Spohrer, J., 2008. Fundamentals of service science. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36 (1), 18-20.

Moorman, C., et al., 2019. Challenging the Boundaries of Marketing. Journal of Marketing, 83 (5), 1-4.

Teece, D.J. 2018, "Profiting from innovation in the digital economy: Enabling technologies, standards, and licensing models in the wireless world", Research Policy, vol. 47, no. 8, pp. 1367-1387.


Doctor Michael Ehret

Entry qualifications

For more information please visit the NTU Doctoral School – Research Degrees webpages.

How to apply

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Michael Ehret