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Problem solving within professional services: evidence from the medical field

Elina Jaakkola (Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Turku, Finland)
Aino Halinen (Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Turku, Finland)

International Journal of Service Industry Management

ISSN: 0956-4233

Article publication date: 1 October 2006

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2150

Abstract

Purpose

To test the validity of the presumed characteristics of professional services by studying their manifestation in the problem solving that occurs in service production.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses medical research as secondary data to study the existence of associations between the presumed characteristics of professional services and problem solving in the medical context. A systematic review of empirical studies concerning physicians' prescribing decisions is conducted.

Findings

Supporting assumptions presented in the literature, specialist knowledge of professional and customer participation was found to influence prescribing decisions. The assumption regarding collegial control was partially supported. Some degree of contradiction was found with respect to the presumed professional autonomy and altruism. Whilst the professional services literature emphasises factors related to the client's problem, the service encounter and the profession, we conclude that problem solving is influenced also by factors embedded in the related organisational, market and institutional environments.

Research limitations/implications

Further empirical validation of the presumed professional characteristics is needed. The results indicate that professional services research should pay more attention to the role of the wider context in professional problem solving. Medical researchers might also benefit from a broader perspective on patient participation.

Practical implications

An holistic view of factors that influence physicians' prescribing decisions is of use to managers of health care organisations, marketers of pharmaceuticals, and policy makers and third‐party payers.

Originality/value

By using an interdisciplinary approach, the paper contributes to professional services research by providing empirical support for the often repeated characteristics of professional services and outlining factors that potentially influence problem solving within professional services.

Keywords

Citation

Jaakkola, E. and Halinen, A. (2006), "Problem solving within professional services: evidence from the medical field", International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 17 No. 5, pp. 409-429. https://doi.org/10.1108/09564230610689759

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited