Change is hard: overcoming barriers to service innovation

Denise Linda Parris, Adrien Bouchet, Jon Welty Peachey, Danny Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Creating value through service innovation requires new processes and ways of communicating to multiple stakeholders. Institutions and stakeholders within the service ecosystem, however, often resist change. Adopting a new service strategy entails two distinct costs – monetary and psychological. The tensions between an organization’s need to generate incremental revenue and the challenges of balancing business as usual and the costs associated with service innovation are explored. Specifically, this paper aims to explore the adoption of a customer relationship management (CRM) technology solution in a bureaucratic setting, and the sequence of events needed for successful implementation, with emphasis on overcoming various barriers and hurdles. Design/methodology/approach: A case study methodology is used to gather and analyze data on how the Arizona State University (ASU) athletic department responded to the changing competitive environment via adopting a CRM technology solution. Data collection consisted of ten semi-structured interviews. Findings: The experience of ASU illustrates that the primary benefits of a CRM technology solution include the generation of incremental revenue, capturing data and personalized marketing. The main challenges are coordinating adoption, obtaining commitment, developing competency, estimating costs and creating content. Research limitations/implications: A conceptual framework emerged from the data that describes the likelihood of a service technology’s successful implementation based upon the interaction of the strength of key actors, organizational situation perception and organizational commitment. The model extends the proposed duality of service innovation outcomes as either success or failure to acknowledge the likelihood of a partial implementation where marginal success is achieved. Practical implications: The sequence of events needed for successful implementation of a service technology is highlighted, with emphasis on overcoming various barriers and hurdles. Implementation steps are provided, as well as a model to help pinpoint issues. Originality/value: The case study provides insight for overcoming pitfalls and barriers to adopting a new service technology in a traditionally bureaucratic organization where resistance to change is the norm, and innovation is not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-629
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2016


  • Customer relationship management
  • Institutional theory
  • Organizational change
  • Relationship marketing
  • Service innovation
  • Stakeholder theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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