Commentary: the unintended consequences of digital service technologies

Mark S. Rosenbaum, Gabby Walters, Karen L. Edwards, Claudia Fernanda Gonzalez-Arcos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: This commentary puts forth a conceptual framework, referred to as the consumer, organization, government framework of unintended digital technology service failures, that specifies consumer, organizational and governmental shortcomings that result in digital technologies failing in terms of negatively affecting consumer, communal, national and/or global welfare. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conceptualize an original framework by engaging in a literature review regarding marketplace failures associated with digital service technologies. Findings: The framework shows that three drivers explain why commercial digital technologies often fail. The first driver highlights misuse or criminal intent from individuals. The second involves organizations failing to prevent or to address technology failures. The third pertains to failures that stem from governmental institutions. Research limitations/implications: The authors encourage researchers to build on their framework by putting forth research questions. To prevent or lessen opportunities for digital technologies to result in service failures, the authors also offer practitioners a “digital technology service failure audit.” This audit shows how digital technology creators and managers can anticipate and address consumer, organizational and governmental factors that often cause digital service technologies failures. Social implications: Despite the absence of industry-specific regulations and the existence of some regulatory immunities, digital technology providers have an ethical duty, and may be obligated under applicable tort law principles, to take steps to prevent unintended harm to consumers before launching their service technologies. Originality/value: This work reveals that digital technologies represent new and different threats to vulnerable consumers, who often rely on, but do not fully understand, these technologies in their everyday living. The framework helps consumers, organizations and government agencies to identify and remedy current and potential instances of harmful digital technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Issue number2
StatePublished - 28 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Complaints
  • Digital
  • Digital services
  • Digital technologies
  • Digitalization
  • Digitization
  • Public sector
  • Service failures
  • Service technology failures
  • Technology and service
  • Transformative service research


Dive into the research topics of 'Commentary: the unintended consequences of digital service technologies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this