PhD Studentship: Exploring the Service Modularity Phenomenon

The University of Exeter Business School, Centre for Innovation and Service Research (ISR), is recruiting for a doctoral studentship for three years to start in November 2013, in partnership with the EPSRC.

The service modularity phenomenon is attracting significant interest from practitioners and researchers alike. Organisations are keen to build a capability to develop and deliver modular services because it is assumed that operating a modular service system leads to desirable outcomes. Notably, it is believed that modularity allows organizations to offer and deliver customized (or perceived as such by customers) service offerings at relatively low costs. Whilst the topic product modularity in a manufacturing context is fairly well understood and has been researched for several decades, service modularity is a great challenge that lies ahead of us. ISR is very keen to start addressing this challenge in a rigorous yet relevant way in order to enhance our theoretical understanding of this phenomenon and produce tools and frameworks that are useful for industry.

There are various areas of potential focus for the PhD work including but not limited to describing and characterising modular service systems, i.e. offerings, processes, interfaces and platforms; examining the contextual conditions under which specific service modularity strategies and practices are effective, as well as investigating how a service modularity strategy should transposed at the operational level in order to drive competitive advantage for service organisations:

  1. What are the distinctive characteristics of service modularity? For instance, how to describe and characterise the concepts of modular value propositions, modular processes, interfaces and platforms in a service context? What are the relationships between these concepts?
  2. How are modular value propositions developed (i.e. design) and implemented at the operational level (i.e. delivery)?
  3. How can the provision of modular services lead to desirable outcomes from the perspective of the organisation and the customer?

We would be interested in your thoughts about the nature of the problems faced by service organisations as they seek to make their operational systems ‘modular’ in one of these particular areas that interest you and how you might tackle these from a research perspective? This question will form part of your application.

Entry requirements You should hold a good first degree in a relevant discipline and ideally have a Masters degree in a relevant subject at Merit (60%) or higher. Preference will be given to applicants who have completed an ESRC-approved programme of social sciences training at Masters level or equivalent. However, applications will be considered from candidates with other Masters degrees and or relevant experience in industry. Due to funding restrictions, studentships are open to UK/EU residents and UK/EU level fees will be paid, together with a maintenance grant of £13,726 per year. The studentship also includes a training support grant of £1,750 per year.

How to apply: Please submit a CV and a 500 word response to the question raised in the introduction, to Helen Bell, Senior Administrator, ( marked with the reference “EPSRC-1”.

Please also enclose a brief statement outlining your reasons for wishing to undertake this studentship (2 sides A4). 

For further information, please contact one of the potential project supervisors: Dr Fred Ponsignon (, Prof Andi Smart (, or Prof Roger Maull (

Closing date is 11.59pm, Thursday 12th September 2013.  

Also Read  PhD Studentship Advanced Composites

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