The purpose of the present study is to measure the level of public service quality in a unique body of service provision, namely the Citizen's Service Centers (CSCs) of Greece. CSC is a public service organization created in 2002, aiming at providing assistance to all citizens and reducing the bureaucracy of the Greek public administration. Moreover, the present study aims to underline the importance of citizen participation in service planning and provision processes, thus providing an additional dimension to the “New Public Management” (NPM) discipline that has recently found itself under serious critique.
The present study utilized a slightly modified SERVQUAL instrument that was distributed to citizens visiting a representative sample of CSC branches. More specifically, 221 CSCs were visited by the members of the research team (20.35 per cent of the total population) and 843 usable questionnaires were collected from citizens. Random sampling techniques were used in order to acquire a representative and reliable sample.
In brief, it is found that, although citizen expectations are not met in three of the five SERVQUAL dimensions, the overall service quality performance is well above average, allowing one to claim that CSCs have achieved their initial target. The gap scores for the dimensions of empathy and responsiveness were positive, while the same scores for the dimensions of tangibles, reliability and assurance were negative.
The use of the SERVQUAL instrument has been a subject of critique by various authors. Its ability to measure service quality has been supported by many and disputed by few. The present study analytically examined the validity and reliability of the instrument, so as to ensure that its use successfully fits the public service environment.
The paper makes an analytical effort in order to point out areas that managers and policy makers should emphasize in order to increase the level of public services. Certain practical implications are offered in the final part of the paper.
CSCs are, according to the best of the researchers’ knowledge, a worldwide innovation only implemented in Greece. Hence, their examination may serve as a guiding light for other countries suffering from public sector inefficiencies. The methodological contribution of the paper lies in the implementation of the SERVQUAL instrument in the context of public services and its subsequent validation with the use of exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. On a theoretical level, the present paper enhances the current literature with a paper that argues that citizens should actively participate in the processes of service planning and service provision.
Chatzoglou, P., Chatzoudes, D., Vraimaki, E. and Diamantidis, A. (2013), "Service quality in the public sector: the case of the Citizen's Service Centers (CSCs) of Greece", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 62 No. 6, pp. 583-605. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPPM-12-2012-0140Download as .RIS
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