Service Design Research

A few months ago I decided to finally dig in to the canonical literature on Service Design and read as much of it as I could find. I’ve gone back about thirty years to compile articles from Marketing and Retail Journals, Design Journals and the Harvard Business Review.

Service Design Research
Article Database

I started by following up citations from the 2006 Emergence Conference at CMU and added a reading list from a UK project called Designing for Services. I also found my old syllabus from Shelley Evenson’s inaugural service design course at CMU and added a few references I stumbled across in my research.

Of course, it’s easier to compile a reading list than it is to actually locate the papers, some of which date back to the year I was born. I was gearing up for a battle with Google, but the San Francisco Public Library ended up taking most of the fun out of my quest by providing PDFs of the journal articles to anyone with a library card. I collected most of the articles in an afternoon but despite my best efforts a few papers eluded electronic capture and I was forced to drive down to the Jackson Business Library at Stanford University for some of the more obscure journals.

To make sense of the piles of reading I kept notes on concepts and examples that reappeared in multiple articles so I could track their progression. I’ve put those cross-references together into a system to find papers by concept, example, author, journal or decade to make it as easy as possible for others to delve into the research for themselves.

If you’d like to help fill in the gaps by suggesting other canonical papers, e-mail the citations to service at howardesign.com.


  1. Jeff

    Added “Lean Consumption” by James Womack. A nice counterpoint to “The Lean Service Machine.” Thanks to Chris Downs for the suggestion.




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