Service robots: value co-creation and co-destruction in elderly care networks

Martina Caic, Gaby Odekerken-Schröder, Dominik Mahr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the potential roles for service robots (i.e. socially assistive robots) in value networks of elderly care. Taking an elderly person’s perspective, it defines robot roles according to their value co-creating/destroying potential for the elderly user (i.e. focal actor), while acknowledging consequences for a network of users around the elderly (i.e. network actors).
Design/methodology/approach – This qualitative, interpretative study employs in-depth phenomenographic interviews, supported by generative cards activities (i.e. Contextual Value Network Mapping), to elicit an elderly person’s tacit knowledge and anticipate the effects of introducing an automated actor on institutionalized value co-creation practices.
Findings – The proposed typology identifies six roles of socially assistive robots in an elderly person’s value network (enabler, intruder, ally, replacement, extended self, and deactivator) and links them to three healthsupporting functions by robots: safeguarding, social contact, and cognitive support.
Research limitations/implications – Elderly people have notable expectations about the inclusion of a socially assistive robot as a new actor in their value networks. The identified robot roles inform service scholars and managers about both the value co-destruction potential that needs to be avoided through careful designs and the value co-creation potential that should be leveraged.
Originality/value – Using network-conscious phenomenographic interviews before the introduction of a novel value proposition sheds new light on the shifting value co-creation interplay among value network actors (i.e. elderly people, formal and informal caregivers). The value co-creation/destruction potential of socially assistive robots and their corresponding roles in care-based value networks offer insights for the design of meaningful robotic technology and its introduction into the existing service networks.
Keywords Value co-creation/destruction, Value networks, Socially assistive robots, Elderly care services, Future service scenarios, Service
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)178-206
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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