The 32nd Conference of the European Association for REsearch on SERvices (RESER) is a great opportunity to lay the foundations of a research programme aimed at shedding light on the conditions of emergence and dissemination of service science.

Indeed, the presence of a large number of recognised researchers, around the presentation of the encyclopaedia of services produced under the responsibility of Faiz Gallouj and several former presidents of the RESER, will allow for the presentation of some testimonies and nourished debates on these various subjects.

Thanks to the enthusiastic partnership of GPS (Groupement des Professions de Services, the first day of our conference will welcome company directors and organisations representing service activities. As they are deeply concerned by the publication of the encyclopaedia, exchanges of experience will be organised and questions will be asked about strategic entrepreneurial or economic policy positions, during 3 round tables.

The themes of the round tables will focus on organizational innovation in service activities, the needs for city services, the renewal of logistical issues. The round tables will be composed of 4 speakers: a moderator, a business manager, a young researcher and a senior researcher chosen among the encyclopaedia writers. Two major witnesses (RESER researchers) will shed light on the issue of international trade in services and the economy of functionality. The conclusion will be entrusted to a professional manager.

Such a meeting prompted RESER to propose to focus the second day of this conference on the challenge linked to the construction of new services compulsory for a more inclusive society. 5 tracks are proposed to the researchers. The urban services challenge needs to enlarge our data bases on a local dimension, and at the same time to renew concepts and models using a European path as we did during the last decades. Looking back on the emergence of the service research field could also reinforce the interest for multidisciplinary exchanges.

This second day will be welcome by the Gustave Eiffel university, Marne La Vallée and under the responsibility of the “Institut de recherche en gestion”. The European Association for REsearch on SERvices (RESER) is an association that has been bringing together researchers and practitioners (from public decision makers to business managers) for more than 30 years and actively participates in the dissemination of service science through the organisation of a congress held each year in a different European university or research institute. This field of research, more characterised by its field of application (services) than by its disciplinary inclusion, appeared at the beginning of the 1980s, even if the J. Fourastié’s works (1949) were precursor. For a long time contested by the ‘industrialists’, it now attracts researchers from all countries who take the measure of its entrepreneurial dynamics and its complexity in international exchanges.

It is interesting for this group of researchers to retrace the conditions of emergence of this field, which was characterised, from the outset, by its interdisciplinarity at the crossroads of reflections on economics (and particularly the whole debate on productivity and innovation, sociology with the transformation of social relations at work and the specificities of the service relationship, economic and urban geography (and, finally, management, particularly around the characteristics of marketing and service production.

Initially constructed as an heterodox thinking, questioning the doxa of a liberal economy based on industry, the first scientific studies were based on detailed observations and analyses of the functioning of the tertiary sector, such as Levitt’s original work on Mcdonald’s, Bitner’s on Weight Watchers, or Eiglier and Langeard’s on the tourism sector and the Accor company. There was from the outset a strong link with the economic, social and cultural environment of the countries in which this initial research was conducted. The development of ICT in the 1980s and the revolution of the Internet in the 1990s brought new potential to service activities. The question of innovation in this sector has given rise to deep exchanges within the research teams. It is therefore interesting to trace the history of this early work, the conditions of its emergence and the novelties that challenge certain research teams.

It is essential to look back at the history of the constitution of this unique network, the values on which it is based and the way in which it was able to support research initially carried out by outsiders, on the fringe of the concerns supported by most national research institutions. These researchers have contributed to the institutionalisation of this field of research by finding collaborators in European institutions and in relationships with service companies. The places and institutions within which this research tradition was built are also interesting in order to understand how, where and in which fields of expertise – both disciplinary and sectoral – this research was built in each European country.

The current concerns about the material organisation of the production of services, due to the development of digital exchanges and the internationalisation of value chains, are giving rise to new  issues and a renewal of managerial thinking specifically oriented towards this sector of activity, whose relative weight is increasing in all countries.

The call for papers will therefore be structured around five main themes:

In the context of a highly tertiary economy, urban services play many roles: attractiveness of the territory, contribution to the quality of life, employment and social redistribution, climatic issues. The effectiveness of services and their impact on the dynamism of cities and metropolises depends on their management, their efficiency but also their social consequences on the territory. For this track, which is closely linked to the i-site project of the Gustave Eiffel University on future cities, contributions from all disciplines analysing these transformations are welcome: economic geography, urban planning, economics (especially social and solidarity-based), sociology, management and public policy, civil and environmental law.

The statistical apparatus for monitoring service activities (nomenclatures, measurements, etc.) is evolving, but still poses many problems for researchers. Are the actual contributions of Eurostat, the Statistisches Bundesamt (located in Wiesbaden) and the OECD manuals sufficient to meet the needs of European research in the field of services? In a period where development has to be sustainable and local, it seems that we need more data to build new public and privates services.

Through the genealogy of certain concepts at the heart of service science, it would be interesting to show their necessary evolution in the current productive environment (servuction in a digital world), or to return to the debates that some of them have given rise to (Service Dominant Logic, co-production, service productivity, measuring innovation, social innovation….). Can the innovative nature of some concepts and approaches lead to changes in the economic models?

RESER’s DNA is to promote the meeting of European researchers in order to contribute to the development of service science. In this sense, it is logical that this network should contribute to documenting and analysing encounters between researchers from different disciplines or countries who have co-constructed whole sections of service science together. This second theme will tell the story of how an accidental meeting could have favoured the dynamics of schools of thought, notably by making possible the financing of European research contracts on service activities.

Contextualisation of the first works in service management, independently of their disciplinary or national inclusion: a questioning on interdisciplinarity and its requirements. This contextualisation especially concerns the analysis of the research sites where the first research on services was carried out. What was the composition of these teams, what were the long-term relationships between service companies and these teams? Is it possible to highlight an impact on the growth strategies of the majors in the concerned industries?

The detailed program will be updated after the selection of papers.