As this blog is written by a team instead of a single author, it is rich in a way that it consists of several voices stemming from different backgrounds, perspectives and world views. We’ve already written few posts about our team’s efforts to increasing communication and discussion on what matters the most: the substance of our research. As human beings we use language and words when describing our thoughts and ideas. Words are tricky though. They enable us to share our thoughts and ideas, but at the same time they restrict our thinking and always leave room for misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
With this post, I am for the first time in this blog giving a voice for my own thoughts concerning the actual research I am doing and, more importantly, would like to do. I’m quite cautious in doing so as I am going through a phase in which I am really redefining my research and my identity as a researcher. Some might argue that aren’t we all the time in this process of redefining ourselves and shaping our identities and I do agree with that. However, maybe there are periods when this process is more incremental and unobtrusive by its nature and other periods when it is more radical and striking. Right now I feel that I am experiencing the latter.
One of the most critical turning points for me as a researcher happened slightly over a year ago on an evening flight from Madrid to Helsinki. But before going to that moment in more detail, I need to tell a little more about my background as a researcher. I’ve been a doctoral student in marketing already for several years. In the beginning, I used concepts such as user innovation, lead user approach and consumer needs to describe my dissertation topic. Gradually, my research interests developed more towards co-design methods (e.g. Owela) and understanding “consumers” in the context of their lives. Hence, research on understanding people and being able to combine knowledge from multiple sources in order to create something new has always been close to my heart. However, even when I felt that I was doing an important job in trying to get the voice of the consumer/user heard and understood by the companies providing solutions, something in the way I was approaching the whole phenomenon just felt wrong for me. Another issue with which I have been struggling quite hard are the actual solutions that I am dealing with. They are very technology-intensive digital solutions including both tangible and intangible elements, hence how should I characterize them; as products or as services?
On that evening flight, at the time when I was struggling with these issues the hardest, I started reading the article “Evolving to a New Dominant Logic of Marketing” by Stephen L. Vargo and Robert F. Lusch . And then it just hit me! Service-dominant (S-D) logic provided me a new way of seeing the world so that I could find the answers for many of the questions that I had been pondering about. I could see a glimpse of a world without the artificial division between products and services and without labelling actors to e.g. consumers and producers. Even though I now have seen a glimpse of the alternative way, I still constantly find myself falling back to the traps of what Vargo and Lusch  call the goods-dominant or manufacturer-dominant logic especially when interacting with the “real world” that so heavily builds on the lexicon of this conventional world view.
I hope that this blog could serve as a sense making platform for me as well as for all my team members in the (r)evolution we are going through as researchers. Welcome to be part of our journeys!
 Vargo, S.L. and Lusch, R.F. (2004) Evolving to a new dominant logic for marketing. Journal of Marketing, 68 (January), 1-17.