Keywords: Business economics; service economy; knowledge economy; innovation.
Services are now facing the challenges of knowledge economy: in this work we describe the historical evolution of the concept of "service" through the relevant steps and breakthrough points of the transformation process shown by the tertiary sector. Furthermore, we identify some critical passages that led to the so called "neo-industrial" and "neoservices " approaches, underlining the actual role of services in the innovation process of industrial firms: starting from the foundation works of the '30s, we discuss relevant points regarding servitisation of economies and businesses, productivity issues and other aspects related to the growing importance of services. The novelty here is that we read those events through the lens of knowledge economy, with the intention of demonstrating that much of the criticism directed to services is due to the lack of a common point of view. Finally, adopting a relational approach, we explain in which sense we can talk about services as an important innovative milieu.