The Service Triad: Modelling Dialectic Tensions in Service Encounters

Erika Andersson-Cederholm, Szilvia Gyimóthy

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Models of service encounters are often fraught with 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 Simmel’s depiction of the triad as a specific social form. Triadic constellations
and more complex service networks involve dialectic tensions, simultaneously
exhibiting loyalty and disloyalty, trust and distrust, empowerment and disempowerment.
It is argued that a qualitative methodology is a 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalService Industries Journal
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)265-280
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes

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