Service exclusion: Understanding how asymmetric power relations cause ineffective service exchange
Siriwardana, S and Laud, G and Rajaguru, R, Service exclusion: Understanding how asymmetric power relations cause ineffective service exchange, 2021 Frontiers in Service Conference: Service in the world of artificial intelligence and digital technologies, 9-10 July 2021, Virtual Conference, Online (Pennsylvania, US) (2021) [Conference Extract]
Building more inclusive services require focusing on the needs of non-traditional mainstream consumers like the impaired, the financially vulnerable, the elderly and the sexual minorities who tend to encounter exclusionary circumstances when interacting with services. Improvements to the wellbeing of these consumers through inclusivity driven services necessitates a detailed understanding of these experiences. By theorising service exclusion, this study aims to shed light on ‘how’ underrepresented consumers are inhibited from effectively engaging in the resource integration process due to actions of more powerful actors in a service ecosystem. The outcome-oriented view on exclusion in the extant literature elaborates on who is excluded and the consequences of such exclusion. A processual understanding of the phenomenon, however, is required to determine the complex processes giving rise to exclusion, i.e., ‘how’ service exclusion occurs, to effectively mitigate this service issue. Both the social exclusion theorisations and goods-dominant logic (G-D logic) underpinning exclusion-focused studies not only disregard the interactive nature of value creation but also the asymmetric power relations between resource integrating actors thus failing to offer a sufficient understanding of the exclusion-inducing processes and institutions associated with power imbalances between service actors. To offer a more holistic and nuanced understanding of service exclusion, the study draws from service-dominant logic and organizational institutionalism to delineate how power imbalances stemming from inequalities in control over resources and institutions result in demeaning value experiences for less powerful consumers and thus service exclusion due to (in)actions of more powerful actors (e.g.: service providers, frontline employees, regulatory agencies, or technology). Hence, the study theorises service exclusion process as the deliberate or unintentional enactments of institutions by more powerful actors to inhibit less powerful actors from effectively engaging in the resource integration process; thus, resulting in a demeaning experience. In so doing, first, the study offers a holistic understanding of the factors impacting exclusionary practices thus contributing to the transformative service research theme of enabling service inclusion. Second, by highlighting the asymmetric power relations characterising the service exclusion process, the study articulates the role of power asymmetries in service relationships thereby, highlighting its potential value co-destructive effects for some actors, such as the underrepresented consumers.
asymmetric power relations, service exclusion, service-dominant logic