Knowledge-Scientific Evaluation of a Social Service System

Knowledge-Scientific Evaluation of a Social Service System

Fei Meng (Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Nomi, Japan), Yoshiteru Nakamori (Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Nomi, Japan) and Van-Nam Huynh (Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Nomi, Japan)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJKSS.2016100104


This paper proposes a new evaluation method for a social service system in order to support participants to create new knowledge and value. The main proposal is a rating scale method that can evaluate the current level (as-is) and the future desire (to-be) of participants, and with which the authors can analyze achievements of individuals. By using a concrete example of an education program which is a worth living discovery seminar for retired men, the paper reports the results of hypothetical tests on the relationships between items of evaluation, and an interesting finding related to the reason of differences in attitude of participants.
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The tendency of declining birthrate and aging population is a big problem in many countries of the world. Especially its progress is remarkable in Japan. According to the statistics of the Cabinet Office, Japan’s population of October 1, 2012 is 127.52 million people. And the population of people who are over 65 years old is 30.79 million, which is equivalent to 24.1% of the total population (Cabinet Office, Government of Japan, 2015).

According to ‘Japan’s future estimated population’ published by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in January 2012, the total population of Japan will decrease continuously and become less than 90 million in 2060. Among them 40% of the population is 65 years old or older and 25% of the population is 75 years old or older (National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 2012). Thus, Japan is about to enter an aging society that no country in the world has ever experienced.

The Japanese government began to implement a variety of initiatives from around 1990. Actually, the government has launched measures against the declining birthrate one after another. However, these measures do not seem to have significant effects up to the present. The government has also been working to promote ‘social participation of the elderly’ for aging society measures. Nevertheless, the suicide rate among elderly men in Japan is the top level in the world (OECD, 2013).

Under the circumstances of such Japanese society, the first major challenge is to help every retired man find a new purpose of life and thereby contribute to the society. This is an extremely important initiative because it contributes to not only the healthy and bright second life of elderly people but also the burden reduction of young people and social security.

One of the important activities is the ‘worth living discovery seminar for retirement men’ (Fujimori, 2012, 2014) treated in this paper. The formal name will be introduced later. This paper regards this as one of the social (educational) service systems. Although the concept of service system is not new, it has attracted attention mainly in the service economy in recent years (see for instance, Demirkan et al., 2011; Taylor and Tofts, 2012).

The term ‘service management’ was proposed firstly in computer science, and now it is used in many fields such as service science (e.g., Maglio et al., 2010), service marketing (e.g., Lusch and Vargo, 2006; Lovelok and Wirtz, 2010), and service innovation (e.g., Kosaka and Shirahada, 2014). The common idea of service systems is that “both service providers and service recipients co-create values cooperatively”.

When we talk about service system, we always have the image of services that are primarily associated with the products in the company. In contrast, this paper focuses on the services what are with the purpose of activating people in the community. We call them ‘social service systems’. Even if economic effect is not expected, a social service system helps the involved people act lively with a definite aim in life.

Such systems give a variety of information to the participants, who, however, have to convert the information into their own knowledge, and create values together with the service providers. Thus, the perspective of value co-creation has become a common concept in service science in recent years.

One problem which is closely related to the aging population is the decline of the local communities. Japan’s population is concentrated in some of the metropolitan areas. Especially that rural young people flow out to urban areas is a major problem to lead to rural decline. The government has implemented a number of policies along with the slogans of ‘regional revitalization’ or ‘regional creation’.

These policies also have not raised the remarkable achievements. Therefore, it seems to be a good idea to use the power of retired men for regional activation. To that end, social service systems that can help retired men create concrete ideas to activate local communities as well as themselves are necessary. One of such efforts is the ‘worth living discovery seminar for retired men’ which will be introduced later in this paper. The seminar was conducted for three years with the support of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan, and accepted more than 50 people as students (we will use the term ‘participants’ in the rest of paper) (Fujimori, 2012, 2014).

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