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Understanding service practices with ethnographic methods
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3 March 2010
Symposium on Service Oriented Management and Growth of Human Resources, Social Brain forum at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan



The concept of service has been often characterized in contrast with the goods-oriented economy, where the focus is placed on the efficient production of goods that are embedded with value through a change in form during the manufacturing process. However, there has not been much debate as to how to approach issues of knowledge and skills for innovative services.

In its attempt to introduce a framework for approaching such issues, this paper suggests that treating a service as a complex set of activities, and gaining close understanding of knowledge practically managed as part of actual service activities, is a fruitful way of conceptualizing the relationship between service activities, value co-creation and knowledge management. The paper also introduces some of PARC's past ethnographic studies in this framework to demonstrate both the validity of this framework as well as the strength of ethnographic studies to study knowledge in service practices.

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