Transformative service research in the hospitality industry: The case of the “Albergo Diffuso”

Annalisa Galeone, Roberta Sebastiani


Purpose. The aim of this paper is to empirically apply the Transformative Service Research (TSR) framework developed by Anderson et al. (2013) to the hospitality industry. Specifically, we investigated how the “Albergo Diffuso”, an innovative Italian model of hospitality, boosts the economy of small rural villages influencing the collective well-being of all the actors involved in the hospitality process.

Methodology. We selected three Alberghi Diffusi in three different Italian regions. Hence, we applied a multi-method approach through participant observations and ten in-depth interviews with key informants: managers, staff, tourists, service providers and residents. 

Findings. From the analysis five recurring themes emerged that concur to enrich and develop the TSR framework: Sustainability issues, mutual exchange, networked approach, cultural stances, authenticity.

Practical implications. The Albergo Diffuso is an ideal case of Transformative Service Organization (TSO) because of its positive economic and social implications on the local communities, consumers and employees. It contributes to create uplifting improvements in the collective well-being of all the actors involved.

Originality/value. The originality of this study lies both in the investigation of the Albergo Diffuso model through the lens of TSR, and in providing new research avenues for service scholars interested in individual and collective well-being in the tourism industry.


Transformative service research; Sustainable tourism; Hospitality industry; Albergo Diffuso; Consumer well-being; Collective well-being

Full Text:



Alberghi Diffusi (2017) “Home”. Link: (last visit: 9/5/2017).

Andereck, K., L., and Nyaupane, G., P. (2011). “Exploring the nature of tourism and quality of life perceptions among residents”, Journal of Travel Research, 50: 248–260.

Andereck, K., L., Valentine, K., M., Knopf, C., R., Vogt, A., C. (2005). “Residents’ perceptions of community tourism impacts”, Annals of Tourism Research, 32 (4): 1056-1076.

Anderson, L. (2010), ‘‘Improving Well-Being through Transformative Service’’ in ‘‘Moving Forward and Making a Difference: Research Priorities for the Science of Service’’ by Amy L. Ostrom, Mary Jo Bitner, Stephen W. Brown, Kevin A. Burkhard, Michael Goul, Vicki Smith-Daniels, Haluk Demirkan, and Elliott Rabinovich, Journal of Service Research, 13 (1): 4-36.

Anderson, L. and Ostrom, A. L. (2015), “Transformative Service Research: Advancing Our Knowledge about Service and Well-Being,” Journal of Service Research, 18 (3): 243-249.

Anderson, L., Ostrom, A. L., Corus, C., Fisk, R. P., Gallan, A. S., Giraldo, M., Mende, M., Mulder, M., Rayburn, S. W., Rosenbaum, M. S., Shirahada, K., and Williams, J. D. (2013). “Transformative service research: An agenda for the future”, Journal of Business Research, 66: 1203-1210.

Anderson, L., Ostrom, A. L., & Bitner, M. J. (2011). Surrounded by services: A new lens for examining the influence of services as social structures on well-being. Working paper. : W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University.

Argyle, M., and Crossland, J. (1987). “The Dimensions of Positive Emotions”, British Journal of Social Psychology, 26: 127–137.

Bachleitner, R., and Zins, A., H. (1999). “Cultural Tourism in Rural Communities: The Residents' Perspective”, Journal of Business Research, 44 (1): 199-209.

Black, H. G. and Gallan, A. S. (2015), “Transformative Service Networks: Cocreated Value as Well-Being,” Service Industries Journal, 35 (15/16): 826-845.

Campbell, A. (1976). Subjective Measures of Well-being. American Psychologist, 31: 117–124.

Chen, Y., Lehto, X., Y., and Cai, L. (2013). “Vacation and well-being : A study of Chinese tourists”, Annals of Tourism Research, 42: 284-310.

Cini, F., Kruger, S., & Ellis, S. (2013). “A model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations on subjective well-being: The experience of overnight visitors to a national park”, Applied Research Quality of Life, 8: 45-61.

Confalonieri, M. (2011). “A typical Italian phenomenon: The “albergo diffuso”, Tourism Management, 32: 685-687.

Crompton, J. L. (1979). "Motivations for Pleasure Vacation", Annals of Tourism Research, 4 (4): 408-24.

Crouch, G., I., and Ritchie, B., J., R. (1999) “Tourism, Competitiveness, and Societal Prosperity”, Journal of Business Research, 44 (3): 137-152.

Cummins, R. A., McCabe, M. P., Romeo, Y., & Gullone, E. (1994). “The comprehensive Quality of Life scale (ComQol): Instrument development and psychometric evaluation on college staff and students”, Educational and Psychological Measurement, 54: 372–382.

Dall’Ara, G. (2015) Manuale dell’albergo Diffuso. L’idea, la gestione, il marketing dell’ospitalità diffusa. Milano: Franco Angeli.

De Bloom, J., Guerts, S. A. E., and Kompier, M. A. J. (2013). “Vacation (after-) effects on employee health and well-being, and the role of vacation activities, experiences and sleep”, Journal of Happiness Studies, 14: 613-633.

De Bloom, J., Kompier, M. A., Geurts, S. A., Weerth, D. C., Taris, T., and Sonnentag, S. (2009). “Do we recover from vacation? Meta-analysis of vacation effects on health and well-being”, Journal of Occupational Health, 51 (1): 13–25.

Di Gregorio, D. (2017). "Place-based business models for resilient local economies: Cases from Italian slow food, agritourism and the albergo diffuso", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, 11 (1): 113-128.

Diener, E. (2009). Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities. In E. Diener (Ed.), Assessing well-being: The Collected Works of Ed Diener. Social Indicators Research Series 39. New York: Springer.

Diener, E., Oishi, S., and Lucas, R. E. (2003). “Personality, culture, and subjective wellbeing: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life”, Annual Review of Psychology, 54 (1): 403–425.

Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., and Smith, H. L. (1999). “Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress”, Psychological Bulletin, 125 (2): 276–302.

Dolnicar, S., Lazarevski, K., and Yanamandram, V. (2013). “Quality of life and tourism: A conceptual framework and novel segmentation base”, Journal of Business Research, 66: 724-729.

Dolnicar, S., Yanamandram, V., and Cliff, K. (2012). “The contribution of vacations to quality of life”, Annals of Toursim Research, 39: 59-83.

Dumazedier, J. (1967) Towards a Society of Leisure. New York: Free Press.

Durkin, J. and Kolarić, M. (2016). “Diffuse and integrated hotels as innovative form of accommodation: Review of the concept and its implementation in Croatia”, Tourism & Hospitality Industry, 2016, Opatija, Croatia.

Fisk, R. P., Nasr, L., Gallan, A., Ng S., Rayburn S., Roy, S. and Sebastiani, R. (2016). “Doing Well by Doing Good: Transformative Service Organizations,” Frontiers in Service Conference, 2016, Bergen, Norway.

Frisch, M. B. (2000). Improving mental and physical health care through quality of life therapy and assessment. In E. Diener & D. R. Rahtz (Eds.), Advances in quality of life theory and research (pp. 207–241). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Press.

Fritz, C., and Sonnentag, S. (2006). “Recovery, well-being, and performance-related outcomes: The role of workload and vacation experiences”, Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(4): 936–945.

Gebauer, H., and Reynoso, J. (2013). “An agenda for service research at the base of the pyramid”, Journal of Service Management, 24(5): 482-502.

Gilbert, D., and Abdullah, J. (2004). “Holiday taking and the sense of wellbeing”, Annals of Tourism Research, 31: 103–121.

Gilbert, D., and Abdullah, J. (2002). “A study of the impact of the expectation of a holiday on an individual’s sense of wellbeing”, Journal of Vacation Marketing, 8(4): 352–361.

Gursoy, D., Chi, C., G., and Dyer, P. (2010). “Local’s attitudes toward mass and alternative tourism: The case of Sunshine Coast, Australia”, Journal of Travel Research, 49 (3): 381–394.

Gursoy, D., and Rutherford, D., G. (2005). “Host attitudes toward tourism: An Improved Strutural Model”, Annals of Tourism Research, 31 (3): 495-516.

Henna, K., (2010) "Identifying potential wellbeing tourism segments in Finland", Tourism Review, 65 (2): 41-51.

Higgins-Desbiolles, F. (2006). “More than an “industry”: The forgotten power of tourism as a social force”, Tourism Management, 27: 1192-1208.

Hills, P., and Argyle, M. (1998). “Positive Moods Derived from Leisure and their Relationship to Happiness and Personality”, Personality and Individual Differences, 25: 523–535.

Hobson, J. and Dietrich, U. (1994). “Tourism, health and quality of life: Challenging the responsibility of using the traditional tenets of sun, sea, sand, and sex in tourism marketing”, Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, 3: 21–38.

Hunter-Jones, P. (2003). “The perceived effects of holiday-taking upon the health and wellbeing of patients treated for cancer”, International Journal of Tourism Research, 5 (3): 183–196.

Kelly, J. R. (1985). Recreation business. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Lee, D. J., & Sirgy, M. J. (1995). Determinants of involvement in the consumer/ marketing life domain in relation to quality of life: A theoretical model and research agenda. In H. L. Meadow, M. J. Sirgy, & D. Rahtz (Eds.), Development in quality of life studies in marketing (pp. 13–18). Dekalb, IL: Academy of Marketing Science.

Lewinsohn, P., J. Redner, and J. Seeley (1991). The Relationship between Life Satisfaction and Psychosocial Variables: New Perspectives. In Subjective Well-being: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, F. Strack, M. Argyle and N. Schwarz, eds., pp. 141–172. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Locanda Lo Specchio di Diana (2017) “Home”. Link: (last visit: 27/06/2017).

Lyubomirsky, S., and Lepper, H. S. (1999). “A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation”, Social Indicators Research, 46: 137–155.

Mamma Ciccia (2017) “Home”. Link: (28/6/2017).

Mannell, R. (1980). Social Psychological Techniques and Strategies for Studying Leisure Experiences. In Social Psychological Perspectives on Leisure and Recreation, S. Iso-Ahola, ed., pp. 62–88. Springfield IL: Charles C. Thomas.

McCabe, S. and Johnson, S. (2013). “The happiness factor in tourism: subjective well-being and social tourism”, Annals of Tourism Research, 41: 42-65.

McCabe, S., Joldersma, T., and Li, C. (2010) “Understanding the Benefits of Social Tourism: Linking Participation to Subjective Well-being and Quality of Life”, International Journal of Tourism Research, 12: 761-773.

Mick, D. G. (2006). “Meaning and Mattering Through Transformative Consumer Research,” in Pechmann, Cornelia and Linda Price (eds.), Presidential Address before the Association for Consumer Research, 33: 1-4.

Milman, A. (1998) “The Impact of Tourism and Travel Experience on Senior Travellers’ Psychological Well-being”, Journal of Travel Research, 37: 166–170.

Nawijn, J., Marchand, M. A., Veenhoven, R., and Vingerhoets, A. J. (2010). “Vacationers happier, but most not happier after a holiday”, Applied Research in Quality of Life, 5 (1): 1871–2576.

Neal, J. D., Sirgy, M. J., and Uysal, M. (2004). “Measuring the effect of tourism services on travelers’ quality of life: Further validation”, Social Indicators Research, 69: 243–277.

Neal, J. D., Uysal, M., and Sirgy, M. J. (2007). “The effect of tourism services on travellers’ quality of life”, Journal of Travel Research, 46: 154–163.

Nunkoo, R., and Gursoy, D. (2012). “Residents’ support for tourism: An identity perspective”, Annals of Tourism Research, 39 (1): 243-268.

Nunkoo, R., and Ramkissoon, H. (2011). “Developing a community support model for tourism”, Annals of Tourism Research, 38 (3): 964-988.

Ostrom, A. L., Parasuraman, A., Bowen, D. E., Patrício, L. and Voss, C. A. (2015), “Service Research Priorities in a Rapidly Changing Context,” Journal of Service Research, 18 (2): 127-159.

Perdue, R., R., Long, P., T., and Gustke, L., D.: The Effects of Tourism Knop, E.: Alternative Perspectives on Community Impacting: Toward Development on Objective Indicators of Local Quality of Life.

Complementary Theory and Application. Sociological Inquiry 57 Tourism: Building Credibility for a Credible Industry: Proceedings of the 22nd Annual TTRA International Conference. Travel and Tourism Research Association, Salt Lake City, UT. 1991: 191–201.

Richards, G. (1999). “Vacations and the quality of life: Patterns and structures”, Journal of Business Research, 44: 189–198.

Rosenbaum, M. S., Corus, C., Ostrom, A. L., Anderson, L., Fisk, R. P., , A. S., Giraldo, M., Mende, M., Mulder, M., Rayburn, S. W., Shirahada, K., and Williams, J. D. (2011), “Conceptualisation and Aspirations of Transformative Service Research,” Journal of Research for Consumers, 19: 1-6.

Rubenstein, C. (1980). “Vacations: expectations, satisfactions, frustrations, fantasies”, Psychology Today, 14: 62–76.

Sextantio (2017) “Home”. Link: (last visit: 27/6/2017).

Sgarbi, V. (2012). L’Italia Delle Meraviglie, Bompiani, Milan.

Sirgy, M. (2010). “Toward a quality-of-life theory of leisure travel satisfaction”, Journal of Travel Research, 49: 246–260.

Sirgy M, Kruger P, Lee D-J, Yu G. (2011). “How does a travel trip affect tourists' life satisfaction?”, Journal of Travel Research, 50 (3): 261–75.

Skålén, P., Aal, K. A., and Edvardsson, B. (2015). “Cocreating the Arab Spring: Understanding Transformation of Service Systems in Contention,” Journal of Service Research, 18 (3): 250-264.

Smith, M., K., and Diekmann, A. (2017). “Tourism and wellbeing”, Annals of Tourism Research, 66: 1-13.

Steger, M. F., Frazier, P., Kaler, M., & Oishi, S. (2006). “Meaning in life questionnaire: Assessing the presence of and search for meaning in life”, Journal of Counselling Psychology, 53: 80–93.

Tinsley, H. (1979). “The latent structure of the need satisfying properties of leisure activities”, Journal of Leisure Research, 11: 278–291.

Veenhoven, R. (1991). Questions on Happiness: Classical Topics, Modern Answers, Blind Spots. In Subjective Well-being: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, F. Strack, M. Argyle and N. Schwarz, eds., pp. 7–26. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Zabriskie, R., and McCormick, B. (2003). “Parent and child perspectives of family leisure involvement and satisfaction with family life”, Journal of Leisure Research, 35: 163–189.


  • There are currently no refbacks.