The Context of Addressing Power Dynamics in Service Design


  • Audun Formo Hay
  • Josina Vink
  • Mari Suoheimo



Power, Reflexivity, Contextual factors, Ecological psychology, Service Design


To support transformative aims, scholars highlight a crucial need for increased attention to power dynamics in service design (SD). Current literature emphasizes the need for individual service designers to build reflexivity around power without much consideration for their surrounding context. This narrow focus may inadvertently reinforce existing power dynamics while using service designers as scapegoats for the persistent problem. Drawing from ecological theories in psychology, this article provides a framework for understanding the contextual factors that contribute to the lack of reflexivity around power dynamics among service designers. Based on our own experiences and a review of SD literature, we used this framework to identify domains of contextual factors that inhibit service designers to address power dynamics in practice. By proposing a systemic framework and identifying related contextual factors, this study helps to provide grounding for future research and action within the service design community regarding the structural changes needed to address power dynamics.