I Would Walk 10 000 Steps: The Role of Smart Technology Services in Responsibilisation of Consumer Well-Being

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The improvement of well-being has become an increasingly popular phenomenon both in the marketplace and in service research. Companies and researchers alike view technological innovations, such as devices and applications for self-tracking, as important means for consumers to manage and improve their well-being. At the same time, political and societal shifts are driving a responsibilisation of well-being, in which tasks that used to belong to the welfare state become the responsibility of self-governing and agentic individuals. In this shift, structural, social, and political problems become framed as personal issues.
This thesis explores the role of smart technology services in the responsibilisation of consumer well-being. Smart technology services are studied empirically in the context of devices and applications for self-tracking. Popular examples of these technologies include activity watches, smart rings, sleep monitors, and smart personal scales. Through three studies, this thesis contributes to Transformative Service Research and to marketing research on smart technologies with an improved understanding of how individual responsibility for well-being is constructed and carried out through consumer agency.
The first study uses responsibilisation as a guiding theory in conducting a scoping review of academic articles in the field of Transformative Service Research. Through this review it provides a conceptualization of the different roles that service plays in contributing to consumer well-being. The second study adopts a structurationist perspective in empirically exploring how smart technology services portray well-being capabilities to consumers through their value propositions. Finally, the third study zooms in on how consumers as individuals use smart technology services as resources that shape and support agency for managing personal well-being.
Collectively, the findings in this thesis show that smart technology services are used by consumers in structural contexts that influence their well-being. Smart technology services constitute resources with which responsibilized consumers can exert their agency towards different well-being goals. The thesis also discusses the implications of how these service frame problems and solutions relating to well-being in ways that emphasize either the individual or social and structural aspects. This knowledge is helpful for both researchers and managers in considering how service offerings can benefit consumer well-being.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
  • Heinonen, Kristina, Degree supervisor
  • Ravald, Annika, Thesis supervisor
Award date23.11.2022
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-952-232-472-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-232-473-3
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • 512 Business and Management
  • well-being
  • service
  • responsibilisation
  • agency
  • transformative service research
  • self-tracking


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