I am Dasein: Be-findlichkeit, Verstehen, Rede
This was a guest article for servsig and originally appeared as a blogpost here.
My research lies in the understanding and design of complex service systems, which come in many forms. An outcome-based contract for Rolls Royce engines to the Ministry of Defense, complex service and logistics contracts to deliver a bank of flying hours for the Tornado or Typhoon jets, community services provided by a city council, knowledge-based collaborative networks of health partners such as hospitals and universities, economic models and operating systems of cruise ships; these are some of the complex service systems I have had the privilege to work with over 15 years of being an academic and 10 years as a practitioner previous to that.
These service systems share many commonalities that also contribute to their complexity. They involve business models (of firms in the system), behaviours (of people within the system), economic models (who does what, who gets what in the system) and technology/engineering (whether it’s a product, platform or software). Together, they are entities within a system that, in one way or another, provide a service i.e. A competency into the system (I subscribe to the S-D logic definition of service) so that the system functions viably.
Of late, I have been advising on another complex service system that brings me back to my economics roots; markets. Before discussing this further, I just want to qualify the type of academic that I am. My academic life comprises two parts; one that reflects the phenomenon and the other that shapes the phenomenon.
REFLECTING a phenomenon, my research is much like a business school professor. I collect and analyse data to describe, create insights and write papers for publication in journals. In this sense, I am a social scientist, a business research academic in a technology/engineering school.
But the second part of my work is not usual for a business academic.
In SHAPING a phenomenon, my research is in inventing, designing and/or innovating a live system. This is where my work takes on the science and engineering approach. I use the knowledge base across disciplines to shape service ecosystems such as markets and other social systems, the result of which sits within a future space. In this space, I have a portfolio of more than £8m in grant funding, and in this sense, I behave more like a science and engineering professor, with my own team of researchers.
We (my team and I) research into, and design service ecosystems. In particular, hybrid socio-cyber-physical service ecosystems (also called smart service systems), which could be MARKETS, SMART CITIES, URBAN TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS or systems relating to Internet-of-Things such as SMART HOMES or Communities.
And it’s actually quite hard. For example, we have a project running on the design of a market for personal data (http://hubofallthings.com). We write a shed load of papers on the back of the project and design the market as well. These are challenging tasks and I love it because as an academic, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do; to both reflect and learn from the present and the past as well as shape the future, which means making a difference.
However, unlike many academics who do this through teaching future entrepreneurs, inventors and managers, I do it through direct interventions, usually in live environments which often makes it quite experimental, and may not work!
Over the course of 15 years, I have published in most of these areas listed, mainly because I have great collaborators and I actively seek out their knowledge to help with the challenge, of shaping and designing of the ecosystem. I also have a great team of researchers (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/business_transformation/ssg/ssgabout/people/) specializing in decision theory, ontology engineering, consumer culture theories, modularity & architectural innovation, information systems, economics, supply chain, monetization of digital services, consumer experience and loyalty.
I sometimes feel I am on a lifelong journey of learning, creativity and play, but I do enjoy both puzzling over a challenge as well as writing about it. And I believe service systems knowledge is the transdisciplinary domain area that sits at the heart of the future. May there be more researchers joining the fold!