The Role of Service Design in Startups: Exploring Potential Benefits and Challenges from Service Designers’ Perspectives
Abstract: The rapid and constant changes taking place in the modern business world together with an increased globalcompetition is making it more urgent for companies to introduce innovative offerings at a faster pace.Purchasing decisions by customers are not solely based on function anymore, there is an increasing demandfor intuitive and seamless experiences from the products and services that they interact with. The need tothink and act differently has significantly increased the relevance of service design as a contributor toinnovation. However, unlike corporates and public institutions, entrepreneurial startups rarely employduring their early stages the full potential of design in their business development and innovation processes.This thesis was conducted to explore how service design could potentially contribute to the practice ofentrepreneurial startups to identify the right business model in a more effective way, while avoiding thecommon pitfalls faced by most startups. First, the contemporary literature was reviewed to examine thestartup and service science literature to identify potential service design implications for an early stagestartup and the connection between practice and theory. Furthermore, the thesis explores the methodologiesof lean startup and service design. This is followed with an empirical study that was conducted by applyinga qualitative methodology, which involved in-depth interviews with service design practitioners.The existing literature showed that there is a lack of research regarding the potential integration of servicedesign practices within the Lean Startup Method. Furthermore, a pre-study and informal interviews withbusiness incubators and startup accelerators showed that the service design approach is still not commonamongst startup entrepreneurs and managers. For this reason, this qualitative study was limited to theperceptions of service design practitioners with sufficient knowledge and experience of the startup context.The aim of this thesis is to explore the potential benefits and challenges associated with applying servicedesign in an entrepreneurial startup context. The findings and managerial implications of this research mayserve as a foundation for future research, for further validation of the concept.The study presents significant potential implications, benefits and challenges from implementing servicedesign in a startup context, as well as practical suggestions on how to achieve that. The outcome is, thatfrom the service designer’s point of view, service design application in a startup context is possible andmay be performed in two levels (separately or in combination), one in terms of practical tools and the otherin terms of organisational culture, by building a design-led customer cantered mindset within theorganisation. It identifies the potential of service design to facilitate the application of Service-dominantLogic in managerial contexts and provides recommendations about service design tools that may be optimalfor its application in a startup context. It concludes with suggestions for further research.
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