Designing Fourth Place: Where Sustainable Service Ecosystem exists

Alessia Anzivino*, Suvi Nenonen, Roberta Sebastiani

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroContributo a convegno


Purpose: The question of place – ‘where’ sustainability is performed – is a particularly interesting, but relatively unexplored theme in service research (Field et al. 2021). The current service ecosystem design (SED) research leaves the ‘where’ question relatively underexplored – and we posit that such spatial understanding is required for sustainable SED research to realize its full potential. The existing research posits that SED unfolds through collective processes, enabling various actors to shape institutional arrangements and their physical enactments (Koskela-Huotari et al. 2021; Vink et al. 2021). Thus, SED is doubly a spatial affair: it unfolds in a physical and social space, and the spatial elements themselves are also subject to design efforts. However, we still do not know how different physical and social spaces influence SED processes. Thus, we cannot say much about where sustainable service ecosystem design is – or should be – unfolding. In a similar vein, there is limited understanding of how the physical enactments of institutional arrangements should be designed in service ecosystems for improved sustainability outcomes. This is a crucial gap in understanding as ‘whom’ and ‘what’ a service ecosystem serves are questions firmly embedded in ‘where’: places and spaces (Holmes, Fernandes, and Palo 2021). the purpose of this paper is to examine the spatial aspects of sustainable SED. In particular, we seek to answer the following two research questions. First, what mechanisms occur in the places where sustainable SED unfolds? Second, what features characterize places where sustainable SED unfolds? Study design/Methodology/Approach:The present study uses a qualitative case study methodology (Stake 1995; Yin 2012). The empirical material comprises of three longitudinal, in- depth case studies. As the study is exploratory, the aim of the sampling was to illuminate the phenomenon under study as comprehensively as possible. In total, we conducted 30 semi- structured interviews to key informants from both cases. Findings: According to our empirical findings, a novel concept of place where sustainable SED unfolds emerges: the fourth place. Fourth places, where to experience sustainability in the making, are specifically designed to foster sustainability-related work. Implications: This paper provides a significant contribution by introducing a new type of places, fourth places, thus updating the literature on third places and spatial typologies with a novel concept able to capture contemporary societal changes (Morisson 2019). Fourth places, where sustainability can be experienced while it is in the making, reflect the increasing need for individuals and organizations in contemporary society to rethink new forms of spaces and places, dynamically enacting and advancing intentions, attitudes, and behaviors to live more sustainably and address UN’s SDGs successfully. Originality/Value: In the context of existing potential fourth places, we propose a conceptual framework. In this framework we consider several mechanisms and characteristics that are such that they should be present in all fourth places for them to function well in the long term. The conceptual framework can be used as a blueprint to guide the design efforts of new fourth place. References: Field, J. M., Fotheringham, D., Subramony, M., Gustafsson, A., Ostrom, A. L., Lemon, K. N., ... & McColl-Kennedy, J. R. (2021). Service research priorities: designing sustainable service ecosystems. Journal of Service Research, 24(4), 462-479. 51 Koskela-Huotari, Kaisa, Lia Patrício, Jie Zhang, Ingo Oswald Karpen, Daniela Sangiorgi, Laurel Anderson and Vanja Bogicevic (2021), “Service system transformation through service design: Linking analytical dimensions and service design approaches,” Journal of Business Research, 136, 343-355. Holmes, Torik, Josi Fernandes and Teea Palo (2021), “‘Spatio-market practices
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteProceedings of the 8th Naples Forum on Service - A service lens on business and society
Numero di pagine2
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2023
Evento8th Naples Forum on Service - Ravello
Durata: 6 giu 20239 giu 2023


Convegno8th Naples Forum on Service


  • fourth place
  • service ecosystem
  • service sustainability
  • sustainable service ecosystem design


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