The overarching purpose of this research was to provide theoretical and conceptual foundations for developing a competency-based curriculum for an interdisciplinary master's program in Service Science, Management and Engineering (SSME). Specifically, the objective was to ascertain the competencies and courses that are relevant for developing a competency model for a service scientist and a curriculum blueprint for SSME. The study employed three rounds of the online Delphi survey to achieve the research objectives. The three rounds were used to identify, prioritize, and define competencies and courses. A panel of industry professionals and university faculty were invited to participate as experts. A total of 51, 40, and 39 respondents participated in Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3 survey respectively.
Overall, a high degree of consensus was observed among the participants for the importance of competencies and courses, however, there were some differences noted by the disciplinary expertise and professional background of the respondents. Based on the consensus of the study participants, a final list of 10 competencies and 14 courses was generated. These competencies were used to develop a competency model and the courses were used to create a curriculum blueprint.
The final 14 courses were categorized into four modules, Module 1: Contextual Foundation (Information & Service Economy, Consumer Behavior, Leadership & Organizational Behavior, Project Management); Module 2: Service Core (Service Innovation, Service Design, Service Operations and Supply Chain); Module 3(a): Engineering Concentration (Business Process Modeling, Service Engineering, Quality Management); Module 3(b): Management Concentration, Strategic Management, Service Marketing, Enterprise Systems) and; Module 4: Integrative Capstone (Business and Technology Integration).
The final 10 competencies were categorized into three clusters; Cluster 1: Service Mindset (Needs assessment, Conceptualize service system, Problem-solving, Contextualize service science); Cluster 2: Integrative Competence (Business and technology integration, Interdisciplinary collaboration, Diversity orientation) and; Cluster 3: Meta-competence (Adaptability, Interpersonal communication, and Critical thinking).
The results of this study may serve as a common language among stakeholders to prepare future service scientists or "T-shaped" professionals for the service economy. This study also contributed to the body of literature of competency-based curriculum development in higher education.