| 23.10.2019

“Services shape our lives” – Professor Mary Jo Bitner nominated as Honorary Doctor at Hanken

Mary Jo Bitner in a black jacket, smiling
Professor Emerita Mary Jo Bitner from Arizona State University will be conferred as Honorary Doctor of Hanken, at the Solemn Conferment of Degrees on 25 October 2019.

Professor Mary Jo Bitner is a long-term service researcher who has had contacts to Hanken already from the 1980s; she met Professor Emeritus Christian Grönroos even before writing her dissertation on customer satisfaction with services. She was strongly influenced by his work. Now, she has over 30 years of experience in research, education and consulting in service marketing and management. A textbook she has co-authored, Services Marketing, is now selling its 7th edition and has long been used in academic teaching worldwide.

“Why services?”, people asked in the early days of her career. And now, she noted that they say “service is everything.” Her anecdote summarizes how understanding of services has evolved over the years, in business as well as in the academia. “The quality of our lives depends on the services around us”, she states.

Look for the impact

“Life is too short to focus on research that has no potential for impact”, says Professor Bitner. She talks about academic impact, about the quality of research papers, but what more important, she stresses the importance of impact on business and society: “There are researchers who turn their research into theater, for example, and show the results in elderly homes. That is real societal impact!” As another example, the early research on service quality has also had tremendous global impact across many contexts.

She also encourages young researchers to think about their career choices. There are many different paths, in academia and outside it, from professor positions to administrative careers and to business world: “There is no one, right way to choose your path, and you cannot tell beforehand what your full path will be”, she says. A PhD can open doors to many different careers.

At the moment, Bitner is involved in a global movement focused on the future of academic business research across disciplines (www.rrbm.network). It is a social movement in global business research that she sees as very inspiring. “The research in many disciplines has developed too narrowly. There is a risk that societal and business impact will disappear if this direction continues.” She wants to encourage all researchers to think about responsibility of their research.

Professor Bitner will be conferred as Hanken’s honorary doctor for her major contributions as a pioneer and leader in the development of the service discipline worldwide. She was also given the Grönroos Award 2017 together with her colleague Professor Emeritus Stephen Brown.


Annamari Huovinen