About Birgit Mager

Birgit Mager
Köln | Germany

My Journey with Service Design

Birgit Mager Service Design Network, President

After some years as an in-house organizational developer and systemic consultant with companies like Hewlett Packard and Muelhens my interest shifted to the paradigm change from products and technologies towards services and how to help companies go through that transition.

In 1995 I started teaching as a professor for "Service Design" at the University of Applied Sciences Cologne (KISD), Germany. As I was the first professor ever in this field, I had a lot of freedom in experimenting and inventing! But I always felt that if you teach a new discipline that is not yet perceived in the market it is also part of your responsibility as a professor to create awareness and interest in the graduates and make sure they will find jobs! So it was not only my interest to develop the theory and methodology of service design and to build a curriculum around these -I always put on emphasis on collaboration with real partners in the private and public sector, to publish, to talk on conferences - to spread the word about service design!

My first publication was “Dienstleistung braucht Design“ in 1997 with Michael Erlhoff and Ezio Manzini. It was a great endeavor to write this book- but maybe it was too early and it was definitely too German -never managed to had it translated to English!

The real big initiative to bring service design on the radar of companies, agencies and other universities was the foundation of the Service Design Network. It started in 2003 with me and three partners from the UK building a vision of such a network, which would make service design strong all over the world. We then identified potential partners, reached out to them and met: in Chicago, in Milano, in Cologne and of course in London. For a couple of years, we worked on the “service design manifesto”, we had research and teaching collaborations – and in 2008 we decided to open up the Network to the world! With the first global conference we held in Amsterdam in October 2008 we celebrated the pioneers of the discipline and we started this amazing worldwide network with already impressive achievements. The global conference which has been running since 2008 every year, Touchpoint, the international journal of service design has been published since 2009, in 2015 we launched the first service design award – including a student category, which really helped to highlight the amazing work young graduates are doing in the field of service design. Lately, we have built the SDN Academy and the SDN Accreditation!

All this is happening in a team of volunteers in a non-profit organization. It was sometimes hard to balance – but I find it crucial to combine my efforts in teaching, research and network-building.

Besides working with SDN I have been serving on many editorial boards, as external examiner, in jurys – always happy to bring the service design perspective into systems.


Please find here some highlights of the research and publications of the last decades:

1996 -1999        President of Jury:  International Service Design Award, Switzerland

1998 – 2003        Member and President of Jury: International Design Award Baden-Württemberg

2003            Founder and Manager of the Center for Research Communication, University of Applied Sciences Cologne, www.zefo.de

2004            Co-Founder of the International Service Design Network

2007            Founder and Manager of sedes-research, the research Center for Service Design, Technical University Cologne

2008            President of the international Service Design Network

2008-2015        Vice Dean of Faculty 2, University of Applied Sciences Cologne, Technical University Cologne


2008            Initiator and Conference Chair for the1st international Service Design Network Conference Amsterdam, NL

2009            Creator and Editor in Chief 1st issue of Touchpoint, the international Journal for Service Design, later started serving as publisher

2010            Member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Design, special issue “Designing for Services”

July 2011        Conference Chair for the National Service Design Network Conference, Seoul, South Korea

Since 2012         Member of Editiorial Board for the IJD

2016-2019        Head of the Master Program at KISD, Technical University Cologne

2019            Co-lead of the Master focus area “Social and Public Innovation at KISD https://kisd.de/bewerbung/bewerbung-an-der-kisd/ma-integrated-design-2/thematic-clusters/#subject-accordion


Publications (Examples)


Mager, Birgit: „Service Design“, in: Erlhoff, Michael | Marshall, Tim (ed.): Design Dictionary: Perspectives on Design Terminology. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2007.  ISBN 9783764377397

Mager, Birgit: „Zwischen Notdurft und Bedürfnis: Ein Designprojekt mit Folgen“, in: Erlhoff, Michael | Heidkamp, Philipp | Utikal, Iris (eds): Designing Public - Perspectives for the Public. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2008. ISBN 9783764386672

Mager, Birgit | Gais, Michael: Service Design: Design studieren. Stuttgart: UTB, 2009. ISBN 978-3-8252-3113-2

Mager, Birgit: Service Design as an Emerging Field, in: Miettinen, Satu | Koivisto, Mikko (eds.): Designing Services with Innovative Methods. Keuruu: Otava Book Printing Ltd, 2009. ISBN 13 978 952 5018 42 4

Mager, Birgit | King, Oliver: Methods and Processes of Service Design, Touchpoint 4/2009

Mager, Birgit: Service Design and Behavioural change, Touchpoint 01/2010

Mager, Birgit: Business Impact of Service Design, 09/2010

Mager, Birgit/ Tung-Jung Sung (eds.) : International Journal of Design (IJD), Special Issue Designing for Services, Vol. 5, No 2, 8/2011

Mager, Birgit: Enthusiasm, Touchpoint 01/2011

Mager, Birgit: Organisational Change, Touchpoint 09/2011

Mager, Birgit: „Wohin geht Design? Eine Expedition zum Service Design“, in: Bürdek, Bernhard | Eisele, Petra (Hg.): Design Anfang des 21. Jahrhunderts, Av Edition. ISBN-10 3899861507

Mager, Birgit (Hg.). (2016) Service Design in the Public Sector, Impact Report,https://www.service-design-network.org/books-and-reports/service-design-impact-report-public-sector-en

Mager, Birgit (Hg.). (2017) Service Design in the Health Sector, Impact Report,https://www.service-design-network.org/books-and-reports/service-design-impact-report-health-sector-en

Mager Birgit/ Reza Moussavian (2017), Design Thinking Inhouse, ISBN 978-3-9818990-0-9 https://www.service-design-network.org/books-and-reports/design-thinking-inhouse-design-driven-innovation-labs-en

Nicholas de Leon, Birgit Mager and Judah Armani Service Design in Criminal Justice (2018) : A Co-production to Reduce Reoffending, IRISH PROBATION JOURNAL Volume 15, October 2018

Mager, Birgit (Hg.) 2018, Reine Formsache, Innovation im öffentlichen Sektor. Köln ISBN 978-39816422-7-8

https://www.academia.edu/44841045/Reine_Formsache

Manhaes, M., Oertzen, A.-S., Mager, B., & Tanghe, J. (2017). Six Priorities to Promote Service Design in Academia. Community Knowledge Pages of the Service Design Network, 1-9.

Oertzen, A.-S., Mager, B., & Odekerken-Schröder, G. (2017). A Measurement Tool for Value Co-Creation. The 5th Naples Forum on Service in Sorrento, Italy.

Oertzen, A.-S., Mager, B., & Odekerken-Schröder, G. (2017). Service Innovation in Value Co-Creation: A Context and an Outcome. The 15th International Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management in Porto, Portugal.

Oertzen, A.-S., Odekerken-Schröder, G., Brax, S. A., & Mager, B. (2018). Co-Creating Services—Conceptual Clarification, Forms and Outcomes. Journal of Service Management, 29(4), 641-679. doi:10.1108/JOSM-03-2017-0067


Oertzen, A.-S., Odekerken-Schröder, G., & Mager, B. (2018). Designing for Diverse Personalities in Service Co-Creation. The 20th Australia and New Zealand Marketing Conference in Adelaide, Australia.

Mager, Birgit, Weisser, Tina (2018) Successfully implementing service design projects, Touchpoint Vol 10

Mager, Birgit (Hg.), 2020, The Future of Service Design, TH-Köln, ISBN 978-3-9818990-6-1 https://bit.ly/393eI2P



Research Projects (Examples)


1998 -2001    Dienstleistungsinitiative 2020 BMBF, Research goes Public

2003-2005    International Service Cultures, in collaboration with sedes-research, Siemens, Nokia and McDonalds

2004-2005    The Art and Science of Service, in collaboration with OMV,     Vienna, Austria

2006        Enthusiasm – How to create Wow-moments in Service Delivery, in collaboration with Deutsche Bank, Germany

2012        Service Design and Behavioural Change

2011 -2013    Hybrid Value Creation” EU – funded research in collaboration with the University of Münster, EU-funded

2012 -2014    Erasmus Project “Service Design for Sustainability”

2015 - 2019    Research Funding from Marie Curie Program ITN, 2015-2019 in collaboration with 6 European Universities for the “Service Design for Innovation” PhD program

2016 -        Social Services and Digital Technologies - Research Cluster at Technical University Cologne

2019 -         INTIA - Inklusive Entwicklung von Methoden und Technologien für digitale Hilfen zur Alltagsbewältigung in der Behindertenhilfe und Erziehungshilfe. Interdisciplinary Research Project. Funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research.











To me, service design means...

It has been part of most of my life.. in a sense it is my life!

Birgit’s contributions

How to contribute
Community Knowledge Service Design in Criminal Justice: A Co-production to Reduce Reoffending

Service Design in Criminal Justice: A Co-production to Reduce Reoffending

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Touchpoint Article Behavioural Change Through Co-Creation

Behavioural Change Through Co-Creation

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Touchpoint Article Haruo Oba Interview

Haruo Oba Interview

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Touchpoint Article A Guideline for Business Mash-ups

A Guideline for Business Mash-ups

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Touchpoint Article From Shareholder Value to Shared Values

From Shareholder Value to Shared Values

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Touchpoint Issue Vol. 5 No. 3

Vol. 5 No. 3

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Touchpoint Issue Vol. 5 No. 2

Vol. 5 No. 2

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Touchpoint Issue Vol. 5 No. 1

Vol. 5 No. 1

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Touchpoint Issue Vol. 4 No. 3

Vol. 4 No. 3

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