Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the honeybee colony metaphor as a tool to make sense of the dynamics of service systems surrounding a service relationship. Design/methodology/approach - Based on qualitative case research, this study develops and applies the metaphor of honeybee colonies as a tool to analytically and discursively draw parallels between different aspects of honeybees and service systems surrounding a service relationship, focusing on the dynamic nature of both. Findings - The honeybee colony metaphor can serve as an analytical tool, helping managers to make sense of the dynamics of service interactions and, as a discursive tool, giving sense to the strategic implications of service providers' everyday activities. Research limitations/implications - Few metaphors, no matter how complex, can wholly capture reality. The honeybee colony metaphor describes the dynamics surrounding a service relationship at a comprehensive level. Further research can focus on the metaphor's particular aspects (the changing role of honeybees in the system, for example) or distortions (e.g. parasitic relationships). Practical implications - The honeybee colony metaphor illustrates the strategic importance of part-time marketers; they "pollinate" and "fertilize" the customers and properly assessed information that they report represents a basis for strategic decisions. Originality/value - The introduction of the honeybee colony metaphor in this paper provides a new lens for capturing the dynamic aspects of service systems surrounding a service relationship and the strategic implications derived from adopting a systemic outlook on service.
SAMHÄLLSVETENSKAP -- Ekonomi och näringsliv -- Företagsekonomi (hsv//swe)
SOCIAL SCIENCES -- Economics and Business -- Business Administration (hsv//eng)