Despite being a core activity in the circular economy, repair has undergone a loss of importance during the last decades in practice. This is in contrast to research findings, which indicate the contribution of repair to economic, environmental, and social aspects, e.g., (local) added value through repair services, improved resource-efficiency through extended usage, and job creation. While so far scientific activities have focused frequently on strategic issues in the repair sector, the need for realising and implementing successful repair (services) to contribute to the transformation towards a circular economy calls for intensified research on repair service operations. Improving related (business) processes as well as gaining knowledge on repair customers is expected to increase the attractivity of repair by lowering burdens for customers and thus, increase the demand for repair. This in turn contributes to the competitiveness of repair service providers, particular when competing against new purchases.

In the thematic session called ‘Optimising Service Operations for the Repair Sector’, therefore questions related to the operations of (business-to-consumer) services in the repair sector should be addressed. Demand-side issues like customers’ repair service experiences, but also questions related to the supply-side to optimise processing of repair services as well as the interaction between these topics are of interest. Exemplary questions cover topics like:

  • Supply-side of repair: What processes are crucial to provide (economically sustainable) repair services? How can repair service providers improve related processes, i.e., in order to be competitive with suppliers of new products?
  • Demand-side of repair: What aspects determine consumers’ decisions whether to repair or not? Under what conditions is increasing the lifetime of products through repair preferred over purchase of new products? How can repair services attract new customers?
  • How do the supply-side operations interact with the demand for repairs? What level, type, and frequency of information is required (1) from the supplier for an optimal customer experience, and (2) from the customer to facilitate a quick and cost-efficient repair service by repair service providers? How can repair service providers contribute to reducing uncertainty for customers concerning repair time, cost, etc.?

Moreover, policy-making and regulation in the context of repair service operations may be essential for increasing the attractiveness of repair service operations. Hence, the possibilities and potential of those regulations should be analysed:

  • How can public authorities contribute to (1) increasing the competitiveness of repair service providers; (2) stimulating demand for repair services?
  • How do current regulatory activities affect repair operations with respect to demand, supply, and processing?

With this thematic session we hope to stimulate research on repair service operations in order to increase the competitiveness of repair services, required for increasing circularity of resources.

Session owners: Ines Fachbach, Gernot Lechner and Marc Reimann, University of Graz

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