The Service Triad: From mutual harmony to dialectic tension in the service encounter
Models of service encounters are often fraught by reductionism, describing business relationships as mathematical combinations of dyadic constellations. Metaphors of ideal social relationships (marriages or friendships) are highlighted to stress normative aspects of equal, balanced and long-term business partnerships. However, these approaches are limited in their analytical sensitivity, as they cannot address the complexity of multipart relationships, where meanings, roles and relationships are continuously constructed and reconstructed. In order to understand the ambivalent quality of business interactions, this article analyses the corporate travel market by applying Georg Simmel’s depiction of the triad as a specific social form. Triadic constellations and more complex service networks involve dialectic tensions, simultaneously exhibiting for example loyalty and disloyalty, trust and distrust, empowerment and disempowerment. It is argued that a qualitative methodology is more adequate approach to grasp such dynamic and contextual social realities, because (opposed to a quantitative approach) it is not confined to operate with mutually exclusive analytical categories.
- Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
- hybrid market
- service relationships
- service triad
- corporate travel
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