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Distinctive features of service performance measurement

Aki Jääskeläinen (Department of Industrial Management, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland)
Harri Laihonen (Department of Industrial Management, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland)
Antti Lönnqvist (School of Management, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 28 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to study the distinctive features of service performance measurement. It also provides an overview of current status of performance measurement in three service sectors in Finland.


The paper builds on two complementary empirical studies. In the first study, data were gathered through individual interviews in Finnish service organizations. In the second study, group interviews were held in order to enhance the understanding. The service sectors studied are knowledge-intensive, public and industrial services. There are two main units of analysis in the data set: an organization and service operations.


The results show that the specific performance measurement characteristics are more apparent at service operations level. The findings reveal three distinctive features of service performance measurement. First, the contingency perspective stresses a need to consider the characteristics of different service contexts. Second, customer-orientation implies that the measurement should also cover customers’ actions during the service operation as well as the impacts of service operations. Third, the systemic perspective proposes that performance measurement should encompass all actors participating to service operations.

Research limitations/implications

The results provide support for structuring the existing research and identifying paths for future research. They also assist practitioners in their search for best measurement practices.


This paper contributes by providing empirical insights from three service sectors on the development needs of performance measurement. The findings provide understanding on what exactly makes service performance measurement problematic and suggests three paths to move forward.



This study was carried out in a research project “service metrics,” funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. The authors are thankful to Professor Juhani Ukko and Dr Sanna Pekkola for their efforts in the project supportive to the formulation of the first ideas of this paper.


Jääskeläinen, A., Laihonen, H. and Lönnqvist, A. (2014), "Distinctive features of service performance measurement", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 34 No. 12, pp. 1466-1486.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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