The Emergent Field of Organizational Frontlines | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

The Emergent Field of Organizational Frontlines

The Emergent Field of Organizational Frontlines



Journal of Service Research, vol. 20, issue 1, pp. 3-11, February 2017




Advances in frontline interface technologies and devices are profoundly disrupting how organizations and customers interact to create and exchange value. Where once customer interactions were limited in variety, multiplicity, and complexity, today’s broadband Internet and wireless connection technologies defy limitations to enable organization-customer interactions of everincreasing diversity and consistency across multiple points of customer contact. No longer are the frontlines inert backgrounds for organizational action involving customers; rather, they are evolving as sites of vibrant innovations and interventions that engage customers, enhance customer experiences, and motivate value (co)creation. To anchor this emergent field, we define organizational frontlines at the intersection of interfaces and interactions that connect organizations and their customers. We historically trace the use of ‘‘organizational frontlines’’ from its initial application in military and management domains through its current and proposed position in both academic and practitioner contexts. We illustrate our definition to highlight research opportunities and underscore the strategic implications for effectively managing organizational frontlines to secure competitive advantage. We conclude with a discussion of special issue articles and the exciting agenda they collectively engage.