A Service Practice Approach

People, Activities and Information in Highly Collaborative Knowledge-based Service Systems
  • Cheryl A. Kieliszewski
  • John H. Bailey
  • Jeanette Blomberg
Part of the Service Science: Research and Innovations in the Service Economy book series (SSRI)


In the practice of designing and engineering business systems, work is often defined and represented by a series of activities comprised of discrete tasks performed in a prescribed sequence, within a particular timeframe and set in the context of a particular technology. These elements are often reduced to a set of controlled system inputs and outputs, ignoring the complex interactions that need to be supported in highly collaborative work systems endemic of service systems . It is our position that designing and engineering service -based systems requires a new approach to understanding the interactions between the people, information technology and activities needed to enable services. We have approached service system design from the perspective of investigating and understanding work practices as the basis for system innovation . As such, our focus is on understanding what people actually do in practice, including their use of information, tools, methods and the relationships amongst these elements. This paper describes a practice-based approach for investigating work in service organizations. We argue for a need to understand work from the practice perspective, describe our practice-based approach, present a new way to represent work using practice diagrams, provide a case study as an example of our approach and make recommendations for future research.


Service System Work Practice Boundary Object Informational Resource Sociotechnical System 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheryl A. Kieliszewski
    • 1
  • John H. Bailey
    • 1
  • Jeanette Blomberg
    • 1
  1. 1.IBM Research - AlmadenSan JoseUSA

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