AMS Review

pp 1–21 | Cite as

Frontline knowledge networks in open collaboration models for service innovations

  • Ozlem OzkokEmail author
  • Simon J. Bell
  • Jagdip Singh
  • Kwanghui Lim


Service organizations often view customer-facing or frontline employees (FLEs) as sources of inimitable knowledge valuable for innovation. This is due to the experiential nature of service and subtle qualities of engaging customer interactions. Yet, organizations face significant challenges while leveraging the knowledge of their FLEs to develop service innovations. Drawing upon the open innovation and social network literatures, we theorize the role of FLE networks, and the degree to which these networks enable the flow of distinct content for realizing effective service innovation. Specifically, we conceptualize a taxonomy of network domains—connecting customer- and internal-facing employees, and resource flows—new knowledge and self-governance activities, to provide a framework for FLE roles in knowledge networks for service-innovation. Our taxonomy expands opportunities for theorizing the mechanisms of frontline knowledge networks in service innovation as well as identifying a “dark side” that undermines potential innovation gains if left unchecked. Future directions and implications for theory and practice are discussed.


Services marketing Frontline knowledge Open innovation Social network Service employee 



This work is supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business & EconomicsUniversity of MelbourneCarltonAustralia
  2. 2.Weatherhead School of ManagementCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Melbourne Business SchoolUniversity of MelbourneCarltonAustralia

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