Current Research Projects in Helsinki
The Role of Customer Information in Service Innovation
Service innovation is important and even vital for the company's prosperity and future existence. Since the early 1970s research has consistently found that one of the top key factors to a successful new service is information about customer needs and wants, i.e. customer information. As a result, research and practice has focused on numerous methods that "best" capture this valuable customer information. However, the actual use of the acquired information in the development process has not been investigated to the same extent. In fact, the actual use is a black box and a missing link between the acquisition of customer information and the performance of the new service. Many companies do acquire customer information, but do not use it in their innovation work, and many companies do not even do a proper job of involving the customer in the first place.
This research project will open up the black box of use and aims at identifying obstacles and facilitators that influence use of customer information in service innovation. The focus on the factors that influence use will also generate insights on the potential difficulties of acquiring actionable customer information from business customers and end consumers. To increase the awareness of these factors is an essential first step in order to manage them and to steer the innovation work in a customer oriented direction. Hence, the goal is to create knowledge that can give guidance in practice and that can develop theory on the role of customer information in service innovation.
The CInSIn project is part of the SERVE program on Service innovation and is funded by TEKES and four international companies.
Additional information: Catharina von Koskull
StratMark is a joint research program between Hanken School of Economics and Helsinki School of Economics that aims at enhancing the role and understanding of marketing within the Finnish business community. The project is initiated by Amer and funded by Tekes, Amer Sports, Componenta, Finnvera, Konecranes, Sinebrychoff, Suunto and MARK.
Future Industrial Services
Fimecc (Finnish Metals and Engineering Competence Cluster) has launched a five-year (2010-2015) national research - and development program under the name FutIS (Future Industrial Services). The purpose of the program is to ensure the competitiveness, and therefore long-term prospects, of the metals and engineering industry in Finland.
FutIS is globally one of the largest - if not the largest - research- and development initiatives to secure the competitiveness of an entire industry through service business logic. The program's ambitious goal is to help the metals and engineering industry to switch focus from goods- and production-centric business models to service-centric business models. This transformation will ensure a competitive advantage over low-cost manufacturers in countries such as China and India.
The national project, with EUR 39.3 million in research- and development funds, has been launched at Hanken on February the 1st, 2011. The program will be presented by Seppo Tikkanen, director of technology at Fimecc, Professor Miia Martinsuo from Tampere University of Technology and the program leader Pekka Helle from Hanken School of Economics. The event will gather a hundred or so people from the participating universities, research institutions, Tekes and businesses involved. Among many others, partners from the business community include Wärtsilä, Kone, Konecranes, Cargotec, Metso and SKF.
"We are proud and delighted to be able to arrange this event. The program is unique on an international scale and Hanken's extensive experience of service marketing has a great reputation, which makes its fitting to launch the program here," says Pekka Helle from Hanken, the program leader for FutIS. Alongside his program leader position, Helle´s research focuses on service logic and value creation at Hanken's Centre for Relationship Marketing and Service Management, CERS.
Pekka Helle, FutIS programme leader
Finished Research Projects in Helsinki
Service Logic and Value-in-use are in the international discussion currently being proposed as a new marketing and management perspective - not just for service companies, but for any company. This new perspective has brought with it a strong focus on customer activities and experiences. Consequently, there is now a need for new models, maps and measures to translate the perspective into business practice. The purpose of the ESCAPE project is to do this.
The value-in-use approach means moving away from the traditional views of value as something that is produced exclusively by the provider. Instead of looking at how the customer can be involved in the activities of the provider, the project focuses on understanding how services fit into customers' own activities and contexts, and how value is created there.
The project is funded by Tekes and carried out in cooperation with the CTF Service Research Center at Karlstad University and the CIC center at Stockholm School of Economics. The project began in the fall of 2008 and has been completed in 2010.
Researchers at Hanken: Professor Tore Strandvik, project coordinator Kristina Heinonen (PhD), researchers Jan Sten (PhD) and Jacob Mickelsson (MsC)
BeSeL II - From Traditional Manufacturing to a Knowledge Based Service Business
The project aimed at developing a service-centric business model for manufacturing firms by creating a business process and earnings logic that is geared towards mutual value creation on business markets.
The overall objective of this project was to develop conceptual models of how manufacturing firms may be able to regain a competitive advantage by expanding their knowledge base to include cooperative customer relationships, service-based value-creation and -capture, as well as cooperative behaviors required to exploit the potential inherent in the relationship.
Members in the research consortium: Marketing/CERS/Hanken, VTT, BIT Research and LTT Research as research associate organization. Several industry fore-runner companies participate as corporate research members. The project was funded by Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) within the Serve - Innovative Services Technology Programme 2006-2010.
Aapo - Asiakasarvopohjainen liiketoiminta
The Aapo project was a conjoint Tekes-project between the Univeristy of Tampere, Hanken and four companies 2008-2010.
The change in the business environment has caused a need for service businesses to renew themselves. The challenges relate to consumer communities changing preferences faster than companies are able to react to. Electronic distribution channels causing pressure on traditional service providers. Also the creation of trustworthy purchase environments in the internet surrounding is a considerable challenge.
In order to be able to tackle these challenges following themes were studied:
- The multitude of customer roles and its effects on the service industry business
- The cooperation between customer and service provider in regard to value creation and development of service innovations.
- Conceptualizing the logic of value creation in a customer-centric service-industry.
Researchers at Hanken: Professor Tore Strandvik, project coordinator Kristina Heinonen (PhD)
BIG Research Programme 2007-2009
BIG was an international research programme at Hanken in co-operation with Emory University, Atlanta. The project was funded by Tekes.
Its aim was generating growth and competitiveness through improved value generation of new business models.
For more information, contact Research Director, PhD Kirsti Lindberg-Repo.
VALU: Tools for Identifying User Needs and Values in Designing Successful Technology Products
The aims of the VALU project were 1) to gain a thorough picture of user values and needs and 2) to develop a tools and practices to utilize that knowledge in designing successful technology products within consumer product and service development industry. The project was carried out as a collaboration between the Centre for Relationship Marketing and Service Management (CERS) at Hanken and the Unit of Human-Centered Technology at Tampere University of Technology, as well as six industrial partners. The project started in the beginning of 2007 and finished in the beginning of 2009.
Project leader: Minna Pihlström
Researchers at Hanken: Anu Helkkula and Maria Berglund
More information: http://webhotel.tut.fi/projects/uservalues/
Current Research Projects in Vaasa
Knowledge Transfer and Innovations in European Cross Border Regions (KTIECBR)
Dr Adi Weidenfeld, Prof Peter Björk, Hanken School of Economics, Finland and Prof Allan Williams, University of Surrey, UK and with Mr Joakim Byström from the department of Geography and Economic History at Umeå University.
- Comparing between two different cross border regions (CBRs) in terms of the impact of physical and human
geographic factors on the nature and levels of knowledge transfers, creativity and diffusion of innovations amongst Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) in the service industries from neighbouring EU countries with a special focus on the tourism sector, including : 1.1 Proximity to borders and the impact of natural border barriers (e.g. river, sea) in terms of levels of cross border accessibility; 1.2 Impact of cross-border differences, particularly cultural ones between actors from in both sides of the borders on knowledge transfer.
- Identifying the role of cross-border networks in enhancing knowledge transfer and innovations and the establishment of cluster mechanisms.
- Identifying obstacles and barriers for knowledge transfer and innovation caused by the special conditions in cross border regions.
- The impact of cross border initiatives, such as INTERREG on cross border knowledge transfer;
- Suggesting indicators for monitoring levels of creativity and innovations in cross border regions and identifying the implication for EU development planning policies.
Project implementation and findings
The study focused on the more subtle cultural and cognitive differences between managers and customers (shoppers and tourists) from both sides of neighbouring regions in CBRs between Finland and Sweden as well as on the special characteristics of tourism innovation and knowledge transfer between cross border small tourism businesses in two CBRs. CBR I is the twin city of TornioHapranda in the Northern parts of Sweden and Finland (CBR I) and the cities of Vaasa (Finland) and Umea (Sweden) in CBR II.
Phase I (objectives1,3,5) :1. Statistical analysis: 783 valid questionnaires (out of 822 a total number of questionnaires) of customers in TornioHapranda (411 customers from Finland and 372 from Sweden). 2. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were undertaken and survey questionnaires were collected from 19 managers of small and micro service businesses mainly from the tourism, retail and catering service sub-sectors (9 from Tornio and 10 from Haparanda).
1.Quantitative statistical analysis: 300 valid questionnaires of cross border tourist customers from Vaasa and Umeå visiting Umeå and Vaasa respectively were collected. 2. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were undertaken with and survey questionnaires were collected from 21 managers of small and micro service businesses mainly from the tourism (10 from Vaasa and 11 from Umeå).
2.Semi-structured in-depth interviews with 12 experts including development officers, planners, coordinators, head of development agencies from both CBRs, who have worked in facilitating and organizing cross border collaboration projects between Finland and Sweden. Data includes information on new and existing policies aimed at stimulating and encouraging learning and knowledge transfer between cross border actors.
Data from Phase I and II indicate customers' perception of managers and vice versa in terms of the elements in which they perceive each other as different from one another (using Likert scale 1- strongly disagree to 5- strongly agree, see Figure below) in relation to managers' learning from customers and customers' feedback to managers from the culture on the other side of the border (Swedish or Finnish). These aspects influence the extent to which customers potentially provide ideas and information to managers, for product enhancement and innovation and the ability of managers to absorb and use it. Comparisons between the perceptions of each group e.g. visitors and tourists versus residents, Swedish residents vs. Finnish customers, etc., provide an in-sight into the elements that influence cross border exchange of knowledge in the service sector. Data have been analyzed for the purpose of academic articles and communication with the public including local and regional authorities and the local media in the research area as well as EU DG Regio.
The ongoing phases will provide further in-sight into the impact of EU funded projects on addressing the barriers to knowledge transfer and policy implications.
Phase III (on-going, objectives 2-5)
Semi structured in-depth interviews with 26 managers of small tourism businesses from towns in the cross border regions of the Kvarken Region regarding their view on the characteristics, barriers and enablers of exchange of knowledge and diffusion of tourism innovation among Swedish and Finnish managers, who have participated in the EU funded cross border project, Visit Kvarken, aimed at enhancing compatibility and skills.
The perceived nature of the differences between customers and managers from TornioHaparanda (i.e. between customers and managers, self-identified as belonging to Finnish or Swedish culture), which influence the nature and extent of knowledge transfer between them are provided in Table 1. The figure illustrates the scale of these perceived differences, which shows the extent to which they see themselves distant (1-4) from their neighbouring cross border culture. Surprisingly, customers' perceived differences were found to be similar to those of visitors (non-residents), which could indicate that CBRs can represent other mainland regions in Sweden and Finland. Some possible implications for policies aimed at improving cross border knowledge transfer in CBRs are presented in Table 2.
|Table 1. Identified Elements affecting knowledge transfer|
|1||Sharing similar values|
|2||Conservatism towards new ideas|
|4||Knowledge and use of technology|
|5||Use of a foreign language|
|6||Provision of specific details|
|7||Similarity in ways of solving problems|
|8||Different historical trajectories|
|Conservatism||Awareness of differences between conservatism towards new ideas by participants from the two cultures including the tendency for more more traditional orientation versus preference for more 'trendy' and promoting change by Swedes, should be considered when the same product or a new idea is considered to be implemented by or offered to both sides of the border.|
|Technology||The introduction of technologies (if relevant) used in both sides of the border should be examined by using a critical approach and identification of differences between actors' views at early stages of cross border learning processes.
|Use of foreign Language||Training in relevant and technical vocabulary, and identification of differences in terminology, should be offered to participants at the beginning of the learning processes.|
|Provision of specific details||The provision of information or the preparation of any written documents to participants by organisers/facilitators should include two sections: a shorter and more specified section where specific and contexualised data and/information is written concisely and another section including longer and more comprehensive and detailed information which raises more questions and stimulates debates.|
|Ways of solving problems||Some pre-organised activities (e.g. workshops, seminars) should allow participants to choose between parallel activities; one focusing on 'trial and error' activities and experiments, and another offering more conventional and intuitive discussions and brainstorming.|
|Historical trajectories||Differences deriving from historical trajectories including processes and discussions related to the perceptions of symbols and quality of life (e.g. ,more tendency to emphasize patriotism in Finland than in Sweden) should be introduced to the participants by actors from both sides of the border.|
The study shows that a more fine-grained approach is needed for understanding and improving knowledge transfer between neighbouring national cultures in CBRs.
Expected final results and their potential impact
- A comparison of the perceived cultural and cognitive differences affecting knowledge transfer amongst actors in adjacent cross border regions (TornioHaparanda) to those amongst actors in 'distant' border regions (Vasa and Umea).
- Further policy implications and suggested recommendations regarding EU funded projects.
- Data on the barriers and enablers of cross border knowledge transfer between managers of small tourism businesses participating in EU projects.
Further details Dr Adi Weidenfeld
Tel: +44208411373, Middlesex University, UK
Funding Scheme: FP7-MC-IEF/Grant Agreement number: 254516
Finished Research Projects in Vaasa
Storytelling and Destination Development
Projektets målsättning är att studera hur Storytelling kan användas som strategi och metod för att utveckla och marknadsföra turistdestinationer. Projektet finansieras av Nordisk InnovationCenter och är ett samarbete mellan Svenska handelshögskolan, Handelshögskolan BI, Högskolan Vest, Aalborg University och Iclandic Tourism Research Centre. I projektet har en destination från varje nordiskt land studerats. 2010-2011
Innovation and re-branding Nordic wellbeing tourism
Det av Nordisk InnovationCenter finansierade forskningsprojektet Innovation and re-branding Nordic wellbeing tourism har som målsättning att kartlägga och beskriva hur Nordic wellbeing tourism uppfattas idag med intetion att kunna presentera en platform för hur Nordic wellbeing tourism kunde brandas och marknadsföras. Svenska handelshögskolan samarbetar i projektet med Itä Suomen Yliopisto, Uppsala Universitet/Etour, Handelshögskolan BI, University of Southern Denmark/Advance1 och Iclandic Tourism Research Centre. 2010-2011.
DESIRE - Creating innovations through market-oriented service design
The project was concerned with innovations and knowledge creation in the service industry, and the applicability of a market-oriented design process to this sector. The purpose was to unfold, depict and enhance innovation processes in selected case companies. Design and service innovation models were combined to identify potential new service innovation models.
The project "DESIRE - Creating innovations through market-oriented service design" started in September 2007 and lasted until the end of 2009.