Operations Management: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management

K. Narasimhan (Learning and Teaching Fellow, Bolton Institute, UK)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




Narasimhan, K. (2004), "Operations Management: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 342-343. https://doi.org/10.1108/09604520410546879



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Keywords Service operations, Management, Quality

The field of managing service quality is a subset of service operations management, which in turn is a subset of operations management which has a long history as a subject since early 18th century. In this four‐part set, Nigel Slack and Michael A. Lewis have collected 97 suitable journal articles and extract from books published from 1776 till 2002. Of these 16 articles are from 1776 to 1979, 23 are from those published in the 1980s, 50 are from the 1990s and 8 are from 2000 to 2002. Some of the internationally famous journals from which the articles are reproduced are Academy of Management Review, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Management, Journal of Operations Management, Management Science, Operations research, Production and Operations Management, and Sloan Management Review.

Volume I comprises of 27 chapters and deals with the evolution of manufacturing and service operations management. It also has a 35‐page introduction to general themes and specific readings. After briefly introducing the topic the editors explain the criteria used for selecting the articles from thousands published during the period under consideration, and the eight‐section structure used for classifying the articles/book chapters. Also given in some depth is the insight into the content of the four volumes. Volume IV contains an index which provides the part numbers and page numbers for each of the word or words indexed. Volume I also contains a chronological table of reprinted articles and chapters.

Volume I contains five chapters that are specific to service management. In chapter 15, Robert Johnston gives two reasons (one strategic and the other pragmatic) for the growth in attention to service operations management. The strategic reason is a realisation that the way goods are delivered to a customer and how the customer is treated do provide a competitive edge to an organisation. The pragmatic reason is recognition that the service sector contributes more to the Gross Domestic Product in the western economies. Chapter 16 is the article in the Harvard Business Review by Theodore Levitt, which explored how McDonald's (the restaurant chain) successfully adapted the production line approach to its services to improve their effectiveness and efficiency. Chapter 17 is the paper by Richard B. Chase, the exponent of the “Customer Contact” approach to services. In chapter 18, Jean Harvey provides an insight into the part played by power relationships within professional service organisations' decision making. Chapter 19 is a state‐of‐the art survey of service typologies published in the Production and Operations Management Journal in 1999.

Volume II also comprises 27 chapters, but they are grouped into two parts. Service Operations Management issues are covered in three chapters of Part I on Planning and Control (comprising 15 chapters) and two chapters of Part II on Quality and Improvement (12 Chapters). However, other chapters of interest to MSQ readers are the articles on “Total Quality Control” by Feigenbaum (1956); on “Improvement of Quality and Productivity through Action by Management” by Deming (1981‐1982); a review and empirical study on “Total Quality Management as Competitive Advantage”, by Powell (1995); a contingency perspective on “Distinguishing Control from learning in TQM” by Sitkin, Sutcliff and Schroeder (1994); and the article by Brown and Eisenhardt (1997) on “The art of continuous Change”.

In Chapter 40, the first of the three chapters dealing with service control, Katz et al. focus on the methods of managing perceptions and argue that improving customers' perceptions of the waiting experience can be equally effective as reducing the length of the wait. The topic of Yield Management as a tool for managing capacity profitably in capacity‐constrained service firms such as airlines and hotel industry is covered in chapter 41 by Kimes. Demand Management in service industries is covered in chapter 42.

The two chapters that deal with Service Quality are that on “A conceptual model of Service quality” and its implication for research by Parasuraman et al. (1985) published in the Journal of Marketing. In this article, they have offered several insights to consumers' perception of service quality, especially the expectations minus perceptions gap model, which has since been widely researched. The next chapter is the article in the Harvard Business Review on “Zero Defections” by Reicheld and Sasser (1990), which they consider as a necessary strategy to gain competitiveness for service organisations.

Volume III has two parts, one on Technology (12 chapters) and the other on Product/Service Development (10 chapters). The former part contains three chapters dealing with technology in service operations. Chapter 59 by Quinn et al. (1987) reports on the findings of a 3‐year survey undertaken to examine the effect of technology in the service industries, and concludes that new technologies can not only intensely affect but also lead to restructure and have impact throughout the economy. The following chapter concentrates on automation in high contact service operations in the front office and give an insight into the associated benefits and problems. Chapters 75 and 76 deal, respectively, with the challenges of integrating new services into existing systems and the impact of physical surroundings on customers and employees. A seven‐step planning cycle of success for service integration is briefly explained in the former and, in the latter, a conceptual framework for exploring the impact is advanced.

Volume IV comprises of three parts: eight chapters on Supply Chains and Networks; four on Alternative Perspectives, Methodology; and nine on Alternative Perspectives. Chapter 83 on globalising strategies is the sole chapter that has service operations as the main theme, and deals with factors affecting, and considerations in selecting, global service strategy. The four chapters on methodology and the one on integrating environmental issues into mainstream research are very useful journal articles for researchers.

The four‐part set is a valuable addition to any library. Editors can feel proud.

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