In service design projects, collaboration between design consultant and service provider can be
problematic. The nature of these projects requires a high level of shared understanding and
commitment, which providers may not be used to. We studied designer-provider collaboration in
multiple real-life cases, in order to uncover determinants for successful collaboration. The case
studies involved six service innovation projects, performed by Dutch design agencies.
Independent researchers closely monitored the projects. Additional interviews with designers and
providers gave insights in how both parties experienced their collaboration in the innovation
projects. During data analysis, a coding scheme was created inductively. The scheme supported
us in formulating 12 themes for designer-provider collaboration, amongst them four contextual
determinants of shared understanding and stakeholder commitment in SD-projects. The insights
from this study were then grounded in literature. Knowledge gaps were identified on themes
about agreements of responsibilities, the open-endedness of an SD-process, an opportunitysearching
approach, and organizational change that is required for the successful implementation
of innovative service concepts.