Ghost production: Applying the Servuction model to establish a typology and propose a research agenda for on-demand restaurant food delivery
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review
ABSTRACT | Purpose: The rapid growth in volume and value of on-demand restaurant food delivery, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is causing a paradigm shift in the food service sector. However, there is a lack of hospitality management research into this emerging phenomenon. To address this gap, this paper defines and develops a novel conceptual model and typology and proposes a research agenda for ghost production in the context of food service.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper uses the Servuction model to explore, define and model the radical separation between food service production sites, points of sale and consumer interaction from the perspective of on-demand restaurant food delivery. A novel typology is developed and illustrated with eight industry examples from the UK and an accompanying cost benefit analysis. Future research priorities are identified.
Findings: In the hospitality literature, little attention has been paid to changes on-demand restaurant food delivery brings to production and business models of food service organisations, resulting in significant gaps between food service practice and theory. The knock-on effects to stakeholders include increased convenience for customers, uncertain employment status of riders and, for restaurants, striking a balance between capturing new markets and losing control of the customer. Additionally, for aggregators, there is a lack of profitability in existing models, despite holding the balance of power (and data).
Originality/value: The concept of “ghost production” and its associated typology is novel and offers a contribution to hospitality management literature by defining the term, scope and scale of this new phenomenon. Practical implications are proposed.
Keywords: food service; ghost kitchen; dark kitchen; on-demand food delivery; servuction model
Ashton, M., Tuomi, A., & Backman, P. (2022). Ghost production: Applying the Servuction model to establish a typology and propose a research agenda for on-demand restaurant food delivery. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, ahead-of-print. DOI: 10.1108/JHTI-04-2022-0134