Robotic transformative service research: deploying social robots for consumer well-being during COVID-19 and beyond

Alexander P. Henkel, Martina Caic, Marah Blaurock, Mehmet Okan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Besides the direct physical health consequences, through social isolation COVID-19 affects a considerably larger share of consumers with deleterious effects for their psychological well-being. Two vulnerable consumer groups are particularly affected: older adults and children. The purpose of the underlying paper is to take a transformative research perspective on how social robots can be deployed for advancing the well-being of these vulnerable consumers and to spur robotic transformative service research (RTSR). Design/methodology/approach: This paper follows a conceptual approach that integrates findings from various domains: service research, social robotics, social psychology and medicine.
Findings: Two key findings advanced in this paper are (1) a typology of robotic transformative service (i.e. entertainer, social enabler, mentor and friend) as a function of consumers' state of social isolation, well-being focus and robot capabilities and (2) a future research agenda for RTSR.
Practical implications: This paper guides service consumers and providers and robot developers in identifying and developing the most appropriate social robot type for advancing the well-being of vulnerable consumers in social isolation.
Originality/value: This study is the first to integrate social robotics and transformative service research by developing a typology of social robots as a guiding framework for assessing the status quo of transformative robotic service on the basis of which it advances a future research agenda for RTSR. It further complements the underdeveloped body of service research with a focus on eudaimonic consumer well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Service Management
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1131-1148
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 18.08.2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • COVID-19
  • Eudaimonic well-being
  • Robotic transformative service research
  • Social robots
  • Vulnerable consumers

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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