Better Place: A Case Study of the Reciprocal Relations between Sustainability and Service

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Facing rising energy costs and the heightened awareness of environmental issues expressed by society and encapsulated in regulations, sustainability is a major requirement for designing and operating future service systems. In addition, sustainability serves as a key driver for profitable services. Restructuring service processes to meet environmental regulations should be seen as the opportunity to design processes that consume less and thus cost less. Furthermore, sustainable services require service providers to incorporate a holistic perspective that incorporates service provisioning, the service network, and the service customer. In addition, designing sustainable services now promotes the transfer of sustainability as a service from the current generation to the next. We analyze Better Place, a company in the electric mobility industry, to demonstrate the potentials and challenges of sustainable services. We show that sustainability is a major driver of service design. Furthermore, Better Place shows that understanding and clarifying sustainability raises important methodological issues for service design by highlighting the complexity of designing services in a multi-actor value network.