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Kyoto University

Culture of Services: Paradox of Customer Relations

Kyoto University via edX

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Services are everywhere in our society. We cannot live without them. More than 70% of advanced economies fall under the category of the service sector. Other sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing, also seek to incorporate service business.

What is service? While the existing discourse on services emphasizes customer satisfaction, hospitality, and clear design, this courseoffers a radically new perspective on services.

The coursework will explore major underlying theories of service, including customer satisfaction and service quality. In addition, learners will be exposed to competitive analyses, and explore the contradictory relationships inherent in services from an intersubjective perspective.

In this business and management course, you will learn how to analyze customer interactions, using video data taken in actual service organizations. Through discussions of a variety of services such as sushi bars, restaurants, hotels,and apparel, you will explore the complex nuances and begin to see services differently.


Week1: Introduction

  • Discuss the general characteristics of service

Week 2: Service experience: Comparative analysis

  • We can start to see the paradoxical nature of service.

Week 3: Existing theories of service

  • Review some major theories of service such as customer satisfaction and service quality.

Week 4: Ethnomethodology: Analysis of customer interactions

  • Learn to analyze recorded interactions in detail

Week 5: Hospitality: A critical perspective

  • Gain a critical understanding of the concept of hospitality

Week 6: Aesthetic of service: Taste and manners

  • Learn the social struggle over cultural aesthetic, taste,and manners.

Week 7: Dialectic of customer relations

  • Understand the contradictory relationship of service from intersubjective perspective

Week 8: Service design from cultural perspective

  • Discuss service design that goes beyond human-centered design

Taught by

Yutaka Yamauchi



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