The Service Triad: From mutual harmony to dialectic tension in the service encounter

Erika Andersson Cederholm, Szilvia Gyimothy

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2006
EventEIRASS conference in retail and service science - Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 2006 Jul 92006 Jul 12


ConferenceEIRASS conference in retail and service science

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • hybrid market
  • service relationships
  • service triad
  • corporate travel


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