A customer-centric five actor model for sustainability and service innovation

Allard C.R. van Riel*, Tor W. Andreassen, Line Lervik-Olsen, Lu Zhang, Sunil Mithas, Kristina Heinonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Service industries are increasingly unsustainable. Considering consumers as change agents, we show how service innovation may contribute to a service ecosystem that helps achieve emerging sustainability goals. To achieve sustainability the dyadic focus on value-co-creation is complemented with a broader stakeholder perspective, abandoning the shareholder-first-doctrine toward a collaborative stakeholder perspective, emphasizing profit, planet, and people. We propose a five-actor model and argue that one stakeholder - the consumer - is a central driver of sustainability. Consumers’ sustainability-focused behaviors drive the market for sustainable products and services, leading to sustainable firm and investor behavior.
Beyond a conceptual model, our empirical study shows that innovations in social and environmental dimensions drive customer loyalty to the brands. Consumers aware of the consequences and risks associated with unsustainable consumption tend to consume more responsibly. Service firms integrating a stakeholder perspective into the design of their service systems perform better on the triple bottom line.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Business Research
Issue numberNovember
Pages (from-to)389-401
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 06.08.2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Actor model
  • Hospitality
  • Responsible consumption
  • Service ecosystem
  • Stakeholder approach
  • Sustainability

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Competition economics and service strategy - Service and customer-oriented management


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