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Service science: an empirical study on the socio-technical dynamics of public sector service network innovation
Carroll, Noel
Services comprise of socio-technical (human and technological) factors which exchange various resources and competencies. Service networks are used to transfer resources and competencies, yet they remain an underexplored and ‘invisible’ infrastructure. Service networks become increasingly complex when technology is implemented to execute specific processes to deliver a service. This ultimately adds to the complexity of a service environment, making it one of the most difficult environments to examine and manage. In response to the growing importance placed on understanding these complexities, the field of ‘Service Science’ has emerged to guide the effective design, implementation, and management of service systems. Although Service Science calls for more theoretical focus on understanding complex service systems, few efforts have surfaced which apply a new theoretical lens on understanding the underlying trajectories of socio-technical dynamics within a service system. Despite the burgeoning number of studies on public service sector information systems, none of these research efforts focus on the dynamic relationship between technology and its impact on the assemblage-like configuration of service relational structures. The main objective of this research is to examine how does the introduction of technology impact on service relationships in the service network. This empirical research explores an academic service network, with particular attention paid towards a critical end-to-end exam grading process. I employ a single embedded case study to examine the impact of a Web-based system on a traditionally bureaucratic public service system and its transformation from a paper-based system to an automated system. The research adopts Actor-Network Theory (ANT) as a research lens. ANT offers a rich vocabulary to describe the interplay of socio-technical dynamics which influence the service system reconfiguration. In addition, the research offers a visual comparison of the service relational infrastructure through the use of Social Network Analysis (SNA). SNA complements ANT to examine a pre- and post-technological implementation. This research presents theoretical developments on Public Service Science which examines the implementation process of technology in a public service network. This presents a significant contribution to Service Science. In essence, the research introduces Public Service Science to explain how public service technological innovations commands control over public sector behaviour and therefore acts as an agent of bureaucracy which alters the relational dynamics of power, risk, responsibility, and accountability. This research also demonstrates how SNA is employed to model the impact of service innovation. While the theoretical developments presented in this research provide significant contributions in Service Science literature, this research also presents practical implications. For example, the research presents a method which allows service managers understand the socio-technical operation of service network and presents a methodology which can be employed to monitor the impact of IT-enabled innovation and the evolution of service networks.
Keyword(s): public service sector information systems; service network; actor-network theory (ANT)
Publication Date:
Type: Doctoral thesis
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Language(s): English
Institution: University of Limerick
Funder(s): Science Foundation Ireland
Citation(s): info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/FP7/215483
Publisher(s): University of Limerick
Supervisor(s): Richardson, Ita
Whelan, Eoin
First Indexed: 2012-09-12 05:26:34 Last Updated: 2015-12-18 05:29:34