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The 4th Industrial (R)evolution: the role of service robots in online discourse

Borghi, M. ORCID: (2020) The 4th Industrial (R)evolution: the role of service robots in online discourse. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00101763


The 4th Industrial Revolution is expected to profoundly change the contemporaneous society. Despite rising in the manufacturing industries, by the name of Industry 4.0, business leaders are increasingly turning their attention towards services and service industries. Scholars in management and social sciences have started to conduct their examinations; however, the emerging intellectual structure of this nascent field of literature has never been synthesised. Moreover, little is known about the role of Industry 4.0 initiatives in the service industries since no study so far has critically analysed the service component of this disruptive phenomenon. In particular, in the literature pertaining to the digital transformation of services, the infusion of artificial intelligence in service robots – one of the technological pillars of Industry 4.0 – is perceived as a crucial source of innovation, able to redefine the service experience, especially in the tourism domain. However, there is no empirical evidence, in the post-service consumption phase, that sheds light on the peculiarities of service robots and most notably on their influence on perceived overall service quality and customer satisfaction. To bridge the abovementioned research gaps, this thesis demonstrates that (a) the managerial and social sciences intellectual efforts related to Industry 4.0 can be effectively classified in seven distinctive communities (Chapter 2); however, (b) services and the service industries are an unexplored but valuable component of the Industry 4.0 phenomenon (Chapter 2); (c) within the service industries, service robots, through the analysis of online conversations, are perceived as a popular and distinctive attribute in guests’ evaluation of the stay (Chapter 3); and (d) they are able to positively impact the customer experience and perceived service quality (Chapter 4). Taken together, these findings suggest that digital transformation, in the age of the 4 th Industrial Revolution, does not only promise productivity gains in the manufacturing industries but also has the capability to improve the customer experience and perceived service quality within the service industries.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Mariani, M. and Belitski, M.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
ID Code:101763

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