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In-progress research projects

An Intentional Architectural Framework for Engineering Knowledge-Intensive Service Systems

Funded by: NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), Discovery Grants Program, 2015-2019, $115 000

A knowledge-intensive service system (KISS) is a network of organizational and technological agents that rely on knowledge as a key resource to collaboratively create knowledge-intensive outputs and outcomes that are valuable to the system’s entities. Examples of KISS include networks that form around knowledge-intensive business service (KIBS) providers, open innovation initiatives, and learning health systems. Kowledge-intensive service activities are key components of industrialized economies, with the KIBS sector alone contributing over $80 billion to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product in 2012.

Traditional service engineering methods, drawn from product engineering, have been found inadequate for this type of service because of the intense interactions among human resources, technology, and organizational factors in KISS. Service systems engineering offers a potential solution to this issue, focusing on the definition and discovery of service system entities and their dynamic relationships through time. An important challenge for the field of service systems engineering is the creation of advanced models, methods, and tools for developing service systems architectures. But despite a number of contributions in this regard, we are still lacking architectural frameworks that account for key characteristics of KISS such as collaborative relationships among entities and their reliance on knowledge.

This research project aims at addressing this gap by creating an Intentional Architectural Framework for the development of KISS Architectures (IAF-KISSA). The design and development of systems using the concepts of intentional agents, their goals, and the  strategies used by these agents to achieve their intentions has been implemented in a number of related areas such as requirements engineering; enterprise modeling; and, service-oriented computing. Since intentional modeling requires the consideration of the various viewpoints of stakeholders and their potential conflicts, it is ideally suited to eliciting the requirements of purposeful systems such as service systems.

The results of this project are important for the field of service engineering, allowing it to expand its scope to a key economic domain. On a practical level, IAF-KISSA will provide a formal approach for aligning functional aspects of KISS, such as resource planning, with business aspects, such as performance evaluation Moreover, given the importance of knowledge for all types of service systems, the results of this research could provide an innovative manner in which to engineer service systems in general.

Completed research projects

Refining and validating modeling requirements for improved value creation in KIBS engagements

Funded by: Telfer School of Management Research Fund, 2014-2015, $6000

This research seeks to refine and evaluate requirements for a modeling technique providing the ability to systematically analyse and design value creation processes in knowledge‐intensive business service (KIBS) engagements. A KIBS engagement is defined as a time‐bounded service relationship among a provider, client, and other parties that is crystallized in a specific project or contract. This work is situated in a larger effort to better understand, design, and manage service activities in order to improve their contribution to value creation and innovation in industrialized economies. Recent propositions in this body of research have identified processes that are key for collaborative value creation (or value cocreation) among these actors. However, current modeling approaches for service relationships and activities mostly focus on business‐to‐customer service exchanges such as retail services, and do not directly support the analysis and design of value cocreation processes in the context of KIBS engagements. This research thus aims to specify modeling requirements from the understanding of value cocreation processes in KIBS engagements. This is an important first step in developing an integrated modeling technique and supporting IT service for predicting, monitoring and evaluating value cocreation outcomes in KIBS and other business service contexts.

Cocreating value in knowledge-intensive business services: An empirically-grounded design framework and a modeling technique

Funded by:
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Doctoral Grant, 2009-2011, $40 000
Ontario Graduate Bursaries, 2009-2010, $15 000
Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies, Doctoral Research Grant, 2008-2009, $23 333

While knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) play an important role in industrialized economies, little research has focused on how best to support their design. The emerging understanding of service as a process of value cocreation – or collaborative value creation – can provide the foundations for this purpose; however, this body of literature lacks empirically grounded explanations of how value is actually cocreated and does not provide adequate design support for the specific context of KIBS. This research thus first identifies generative mechanisms of value cocreation in KIBS engagements; it then develops a design framework from this understanding; finally, it elaborates a modeling technique fulfilling the requirements derived from this design framework.


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