Study title
The Evolution of Service Marketing Research
Ref study 8028
Study language English
Contributing institutions
  • Marketing
  • Evolution
  • Service research literature
  • Mapping
  • Content analysis
Geographical space
This article analyzes service marketing research published in key marketing journals from 1993 to 2003. Through a content analysis, it studies the relationships between the subfields of service marketing literature. A multiple correspondence analysis allows the authors to map keywords and authors, and to track this literature over the past eleven years. A discussion of the future of the service marketing literature is also provided.
We show that the importance of some themes in service marketing is increasing (consumer behaviors, e-service/technology, international, recovery, relationships, customer satisfaction, ethics, usage and environmental context), and that the importance of others is decreasing (operations, quality, employees, competition, typology and distribution). Themes like customer service, B2B, encounters, innovation, methodology, performance, price, strategy, tangible, communication, promotion, offering and non-profit.
We denote too a significant interest for studying more strategic aspects of service marketing, emphasizing on the role and the impact of customers on firm performance. We observe an increasing number of research in quality/customer satifaction and strategic aspects of service marketing. Furthermore, the evolution of their keyword indicates a possible polarization of research interests on the customer impact on marketing strategy, and, simultaneously, research interests for a more managerial and operational side seem to decrease. According to Fisk, Brown and Bitner (1993) envisioning, we have observed a growing interests for academic field as "service encounters", "service quality and customer satisfaction", "technology infusion" or "service recovery". Nevertheless, the strategic dimension of service marketing research has been neglected. The emergence of this pole, associated with a growing motivation for a more customer-based approach let us suggest a new evolution of the service marketing literature.
Methods (description)
In order to code and analyze the content of the selected articles, we built a list of major themes (Jackson, 2000) or categories of keywords. We started with the list of key research topics developed by Swartz, Bowen and Brown (1992) and Firk, Brown and Bitner (1993). When a keyword could not be allocated to one of the initial categories, we created a new one. The list has been reviewed by independent researchers. After several stages of discussion with these independents researchers, we obtained a final list of 27 major themes.
Each selected article was examined by two judges who reviewed all the 939 articles. To insure that each article was properly allocated, a two-step procedure was followed. First, the articles were allocated independently by both judges into the keywords based on a detailed examination of the abstracts.
To study the connections among keywords, we ran a cluster analysis of the matrix of proximities between keywords. We focus our analysis on six clusters that are interpretable and substantively coherent and two isolated keywords. Then we use a multiple correspondence analysis in order to provide a more detailed and systematic representation of the distances among keywords than a simple cluster analysis.

Démarche méthodologique: Analyse de contenu standardisée, Analyse de documents standardisée
Nombre et/ou taille des objets: 939 articles
Sélection ou échantillonnage: selection
Données relevées par: the authors
Methods (instruments)
Replicated study No
  • Sollberger, Pierre A.; Furrer, Olivier. 2004. The Evolution of the Service Marketing Literature: 1993-2003. In: Proceedings of the 2004 AMA Summer Marketing Educators' Conference, Boston, August 6-9, 2004 (Forthcoming).
Unpublished documents
  • Sollberger, Pierre A.; Furrer, Olivier. 2004. The Evolution of the Service Marketing Literature 1993-2003. University of Nijmegen, Working paper on research in relationship management, ref. RRM-2004-06-MKT.
Financed by
Ethical approval No
Study type
Data availability
Source (Updates) Web
Date created 28.07.2004
Date modified 28.07.2004
Start - End date 01.07.2003 - 28.12.2004