Robotic transformative service research: deploying social robots for consumer well-being during Covid-19 and beyond

A.P. Henkel, Martina Čaic, Marah Blaurock, Mehmet Okan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Besides the direct physical health consequences, through social isolation COVID-19 affects a considerably larger share of consumers with deleterious effects for their psychological well-being. Two vulnerable consumer groups are particularly affected: older adults and children. The purpose of the underlying paper is to take a transformative research perspective on how social robots can be deployed for advancing the well-being of these vulnerable consumers and to spur robotic transformative service research (RTSR).

This paper follows a conceptual approach that integrates findings from various domains: service research, social robotics, social psychology and medicine.

Two key findings advanced in this paper are (1) a typology of robotic transformative service (i.e. entertainer, social enabler, mentor and friend) as a function of consumers' state of social isolation, well-being focus and robot capabilities and (2) a future research agenda for RTSR.

Practical implications
This paper guides service consumers and providers and robot developers in identifying and developing the most appropriate social robot type for advancing the well-being of vulnerable consumers in social isolation.

This study is the first to integrate social robotics and transformative service research by developing a typology of social robots as a guiding framework for assessing the status quo of transformative robotic service on the basis of which it advances a future research agenda for RTSR. It further complements the underdeveloped body of service research with a focus on eudaimonic consumer well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131-1148
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Service Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2020


  • Social robots
  • Vulnerable consumers
  • COVID-19
  • Eudaimonic well-being
  • Robotic transformative service research


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