Understanding delegated actions: Toward an activity-theoretical perspective on customer-centered service design

Victor Kaptelinin
Dept. of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Norway/Dept. of Informatics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

Lorna Uden
Faculty of Comp. Engin. & Tech., Staffordshire University, The Octagon, Beaconside, Stafford, UK

Ladda ner artikel

Ingår i: ServDes.2012 Conference Proceedings Co-Creating Services; The 3rd Service Design and Service Innovation Conference; 8-10 February; Espoo; Finland

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 67:12, s. 101-109

Visa mer +

Publicerad: 2013-10-16

ISBN: 978-91-7519-482-0

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


The paper presents an exploration of service design from the point of view of activity theory. The analysis in the paper builds upon recent work in service design (e.g.; Holmlid; 2007; Sangiorgi; 2009; Wild; 2010); and extends our own previous research; in which activity theory was applied in analysis and design of interactive artefacts (Kaptelinin and Nardi; 2006; Uden and Willis; 2001). The discussion in the paper focuses on how services are integrated into customers’ activities. We argue that activities supported by services represent a special type of human activity: they are both collective (since they are performed by several actors) and individual (since their structure is primarily determined by the hierarchy of goals of one actor; i.e.; the customer). According to the position; advocated in this paper; services can be considered as delegated actions. We tentatively identify a set of issues that need to be taken into account in service design; namely: core vs. auxiliary actions; poly-motivation; complex mediation; dynamic social distribution; whole life-cycle support; and long-term appropriation.


Service design; activity theory; Human-Computer Interaction


Beyer; H. and Holtzblatt; K. (1998). Contextual design: Defining customer-centered systems. Morgan Kaufmann; San Francisco.

Bødker; S. (1991). Through the interface: A human activity approach to user interface design. Hillsdale; NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Bødker; S. and Andersen; P. B. (2005). Complex mediation. Human-Computer Interaction; 20; 353-402

Grönroos; C. (2008). Service logic revisited: who creates value? And who co-creates? European Business Review; Vol. 20 (4); 298 - 314

Engeström; Y. (1987). Learning by Expanding: An Activity-Theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit Oy.

Gupta; S. and Vajic; M. (2000). The contextual and dialectical nature of experiences. In J. and M. Fitzsimmons (eds.) New service development: Creating memorable experiences. Sage Publications; 33 - 51.

Holmlid; (2007). Interaction design and service design: Expanding a comparison of design disciplines. Proceedings of Nordes 2007.

Kaptelinin. V. and Bannon; L. (in press). Interaction design beyond the product: Creating technology-enhanced activity spaces. To appear in Human-Computer Interaction.

Kaptelinin; V. and Nardi; B. (2006). Acting with technology: Activity theory and interaction design. MIT Press.

Leontiev; A. (1978). Activity; Consciousness; and Personality. Englewood Cliffs; NJ: Prentice-Hall.

McBride; N. and Elbeltagi; I. (2004). Service-oriented human computer interaction and scripting. In: Sarmento; A. (ed.) Issues of Human-Computer Interaction. Idea Group.; 1-20

Multisilta; J. (2009). A service science perspective on the design of social media activities. IJWET; 5 (3); 327-342.

Normann; R. (2001). Reframing business: When the map changes the landscape. Chichester; UK: Wiley.

Ravald; A. (2008). How is customer value created. Hanken School of Economics; Helsingfors.

Sangiorgi; D. (2009). Building up a framework for service design research. Proceedings of the 8th European Academy of Design conference.

Sharp; H.; Rogers; Y.; and Preece; J. (2007). Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction. 2nd edition. Wiley.

Sporher; J.; Vargo; S.l.; Caswell; N. and Maglia; P.P. (2008). The service system is the basic abstraction of service science. Proceedings of the 41st International Hawaii Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 41).

Uden; L. and Willis; N. (2001). Designing user interfaces using activity theory. Proceedings of the 34th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 34).

Vargo; S. L. and Lusch; R. F. (2006). Service dominant logic: Reactions; reflections and refinements. Marketing theory. 6(3); 281–288.

Vargo; S.L and Lusch; R.F. (2008). Service-dominant logic: continuing the evolution. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science; 36 (1); 1-10.

Wild; P. J. (2010). Longing for service: Bringing the UCL Conception towards services research. Interacting with Computers; 22 (1).

Wood; W.A. (1981). Consumer Behaviour. North Holland; New York; NY.

Citeringar i Crossref