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Strategic roles of service sites: application of Ferdows’s model

Ville Hallavo (Department of Information and Service Economy, Aalto University School of Business, Helsinki, Finland)
Markku Kuula (Department of Information and Service Economy, Aalto University School of Business, Helsinki, Finland)
Antero Putkiranta (Department of Industrial Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland AND Department of Industrial Economics, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Espoo, Finland)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine the applicability to the service business of general models used in the manufacturing environment. This is done by applying Ferdows’s model, “the strategic role of the plant”, in two cases.


This study uses the case approach. One case (IBM Nordic) is based on an interview, while the other case (Google) relies on secondary data. In each case the operations are mapped on Ferdows’s model.


The cases indicate that the same kind of roles can be found in the service business as in traditional manufacturing environments, and that these roles are widely used. However, for communicative purposes, the model was terminologically slightly modified.

Research limitations/implications

Although this study presents the findings of only two cases, the knowledge of material available from public sources leads us to believe that these findings are universal. The model is easy to communicate in the service sector and is thus a very valuable tool.


Models used in the traditional manufacturing and operations management environment have not yet been fully discovered by, nor sufficiently applied in, the service sector. Academics and practitioners are busy trying to create new models in this sector, without noticing that the “old” tools are still usable. Benchmarking against the models used in other sectors might be a worthwhile exercise.



Hallavo, V., Kuula, M. and Putkiranta, A. (2015), "Strategic roles of service sites: application of Ferdows’s model", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 186-200.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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