Innovative course design in higher education: Applying service-dominant logic to an operations management course
Conference poster, 2016
Innovative course design in higher education:
Applying service-dominant logic to an operations management course
Since the ground-breaking article “Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing” (Vargo & Lusch, 2004), the service-dominant logic (S-D logic) has received a great deal of attention in particular within marketing, arguing that service is the basis of economic exchange, instead of a focus on goods as outputs. Living in a service and knowledge intense society, the trend towards a focus on services also includes industries formerly focused on products. The trend of servitization, referring to a transition towards an increased focus on services in the overall offering (Vandermerwe & Rada, 1988; Baines & Lightfoot, 2013), affects the way business are made and the operations within the organisation. The S-D logic is argued to correspond well to this service-intense society (Ford & Bowen, 2008), and offers a way to understand value creation where S-D logic argues that service is the process of actually using competences to create benefit for some actor (Vargo & Lusch, 2004).
Aligned with this trend in society, we can see development within higher education, e.g. the raise of MOOCs (Sultan, 2014). To respond to societal development, higher education need to adress new requirements and changing expectations from students while providing increased value for students.
However, research on S-D logic in higher education is scarce (Kryvinska et al., 2013) and the existing contributions focus on the importance to include S-D logic as a subject into business school courses (e.g. Ford and Bowen, 2008), for example courses in operations management (OM). To our knowledge there are no publications that applies the S-D logic to the design of education rather than to include the subject.
This paper aims to bridge this gap by proposing an S-D logic adapted analytical tool for education activities.
The analytical tool combines a knowledge dissemination (KD) framework by Paulin (2013) with the foundational premises of S-D logic as described by Vargo and Lusch (2004, 2008). The KD framework consists of five components, or groups of factors influencing how knowledge is disseminated. These components are Actors (including sources and recipients), Media, Content, Context, and Activity. The premises of S-D logic (or the axioms) include “service is the fundamental basis of exchange”, “the customer is always co-creator of value”, “all economic and social actors are resource integrators” and “value is always uniquely and phenomenologically determined by the beneficiary” (Lusch and Vargo, 2014; 15-16).
In this paper we use the activities in one OM course given at Chalmers University of Technology to exemplify how the proposed analytical tool can be applied. The course was selected since it is perceived as a traditionally designed course regarding content and teaching activities.
In order to understand formal prerequisites for course design documents covering formal requirements, including Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance and programme syllabi, were analysed.
Information regarding the particular course design was collected via two semi-structured interviews with the course examiner and one additional teacher and by studying official course documentation including syllabus, lecture material, and examination documents. Triangulation of data was obtained by including the student perspective via analysis of course evaluations plus one group interview with five previous students.
We have found that when the proposed tool is used to analyse course activities, it highlights potential development areas to better align education activities with S-D logic.
We have also found that certain teaching activities such as lectures are limited in their alignment with the S-D logic, while other activities such as experiential learning projects correspond well with the S-D logic. The primary media used in most activities analysed is face-to-face communication which enables alignment with axioms 1 to 3. We have indications based on the examiners’ underlying pedagogical philosophy that the axioms of S-D logic was not consciously followed when the course was originally designed.
This paper applies S-D logic to a new setting; design of higher education. One contribution from this paper is to advance the understanding of knowledge dissemination in higher education, through the proposed analytical tool combined of service-dominant logic axioms and a knowledge dissemination framework. Further, the findings offer opportunities for development of higher education activities by, for example, novel and additional approaches to knowledge co-creation and resource integration compared to traditional activities.