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Introduction: EDSI Annual Conference 2015—"Decision Sciences for the Service Economy"

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The authors of "Research in the Decision Sciences for the Service Economy: Best Papers from the 2015 Annual Conference" introduce select papers from the EDSI Annual Conference 2015.
This chapter is from the book

Introduction: EDSI Annual Conference 2015—“Decision Sciences for the Service Economy”

The European Decision Sciences Institute is a recent venture (2010) and one aiming to fill a niche still empty in the European context. Since its onset, the goal of the association has been to provide a forum for research that studies complex decision problems in business with a multidisciplinary perspective. Although we do not deny the benefits of highly focused organizations in terms of depth of analysis, we are also convinced of the advantages of creating networks of academics and of producing research where different perspectives meet in coping with business decision making. In this respect, we assimilate multidisciplinary research to Granovetter’s “weak ties” in networks and to his idea that “weak ties are indispensable to individuals’ opportunities” (1985:1378), however paradoxical this may sound.

The contributions from the 2015 conference bear witness to this view: Several of the papers presented look at specific problems using multiple and (sometimes) unconventional lenses, and this cross-fertilization can be effective in supporting managerial and policy decisions. To name just a few examples, Rehm, Schupp, and Matthyssens (Chapter 8) look at the problem of innovation from the perspective of purchasing, highlighting the contribution that purchasing departments can offer to innovations problems. Andrea Rapisarda, a trained physicist, and his colleagues (Chapter 12) use modeling and simulations to analyze the efficiency of different promotion strategies within organizations.

While remaining faithful to the DSI’s philosophy of a multidisciplinary view of Decision Sciences, each EDSI conference has a specific focus. The topic of EDSI 2015, “Decision Sciences for the Service Economy,” reflects the belief we have formed in several years of research and teaching, namely, that the ability of our economies to achieve a further rise in value created passes through a deeper understanding of the growing role of services.

No doubt, services represent today the largest slice of the economy of many countries, and the fastest-growing part of their business for many multibusiness companies. IBM is perhaps a paradigmatic example of this trend.

In addition, pre- and post-sale services have become an important element of manufacturing firms’ value proposition to their customers, thus making the analysis of service provision crucial not only to service organizations but also to manufacturing.

Finally, public services play an increasing role in modern economies, and their role is crucial to improve the quality of life of citizens and the competitiveness of firms.

In spite of the importance already attributed to services by their share in the economy, there is a need for further research that may contribute to challenge our present views of service provision. For instance, outsourcing in public services has also led to the diffusion of service triads in the public sector, whereby the recipient of the service buys it from an entity who is not the actual service provider. More generally, the easy access to global labor markets has created global service networks that call for structures, inter-organizational relationships, knowledge management, and human resource practices that innovate with respect to traditional supply chains.

Finally, some service sectors such as healthcare and public administrations can benefit from the contributions of operations management, management science, and MIS.

Four contributions in this book reflect the relevance assigned to services in the 2015 conference. Two contributions focus on healthcare—the high number of submissions we have received for the conference in this field is evidence of the growing interest toward research in healthcare operations and management. Safety and quality in healthcare have been shown to be crucially related to team support and supervisory relations, a topic taken by Di Mauro, Giammanco, and Giammanco (Chapter 3). Finally, Spooner and Cloutier (Chapter 2) analyze the clinical research budget process in the health sector.

Innovative public-sector services that improve efficiency and support competitiveness are the theme of the contributions by Hajnal and Kovács (Chapter 1), and by Ancarani and Turcati (Chapter 4). The former discusses the recent “one-stop” government customer services in Hungary, and the latter focuses on the Italian experience of public support for participation of companies in international public procurement tenders, through the provision of information and targeted assistance.

The remaining contributions of the book can be grouped into other subfields of business analysis: Supply Chain Management, Management, and Innovation and Competitiveness.

The supply chain management section offers diverse perspectives not only in terms of issues investigated but also in terms of country contexts and methodologies. A first issue raised by Rungtusanatham (Chapter 5) is the maturity of theory-driven survey research in supply chain and operations management. Using survey data collected in Spain and Poland, Michalski, Botella, and Piedra empirically examine the influences of asymmetry between partners on collaboration, integration, and performance between supply chain partners (Chapter 6). In Chapter 7 , Kilpi draws on service logic and the knowledge-based firm concept to examine through case-based analysis the buyer–supplier relationships and learning strategies applied in supplier development in Finland. Acar and Atadeniz (Chapter 9) identify gaps in the supply chain integration literature, pointing to the need for research on the benefits of integration that enlarges the set of performance indicators. Zsidisin, Miemczyk, and Saunders (Chapter 10) contrast the traditional western countries’ perspectives on sustainability and corporate social responsibility with the goal to attain sustainable business practices in emerging regions of the world that are considered legitimate and congruent with the native populace. D’Urso, Chiacchio, and Compagno (Chapter 11) contribute to the field of behavioral operations by comparing purchasing behavior in newsvendor games with and without demand information, and tackle the problem of identifying the heuristics that best fit observed behavior.

The two papers in the management perspective section both offer novel views on well-known problems. Pluchino, Rapisarda, and Garofalo (Chapter 12) provide the physicist’s view of the well-known Peter principle. By studying promotions in pyramidal organizations, these authors show that, under given conditions, random-selection choices can outperform meritocratic promotions. Appolloni, Bellisario, and Chirico (Chapter 13) present a state-of-the-art and research agenda on strategic performance management in lean manufacturing organizations, thus providing a strategic view of a typical operational problem.

The last section of the book contains two papers, both focusing on innovation in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Because of their share in many economies, innovation in SMEs is a crucial area for economic growth. Yet, especially when open innovation is at issue, it still remains an underdeveloped topic. Cerchione, Esposito, and Raffa (Chapter 14) look at knowledge management tools and practices in SMEs, whereas Ancarani, Henke, and Lorentz (Chapter 15) present a state-of-the-art of open innovation research for SMEs.

We hope the readers will enjoy this collection of contributions and find them useful to generate insights for their research and their teaching.

—Carmela Di Mauro, University of Catania, Italy

—Alessandro Ancarani, University of Catania, Italy

—Gyula Vastag, National University of Public Service and Széchenyi University, Hungary

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