This paper aims to explore how professional competences are defined and assessed by clients of professional service firms (PSFs). Extant research has studied the knowledge base of professionals, but limited research has been conducted to develop an understanding of how clients value this knowledge.
The study is based on in-depth qualitative research design, which is suitable for inductive theory building. The collected data consist of interviews with 80 clients and sellers of professional services.
The authors offer a framework detailing the interrelationships between knowledge, experience and references as assessed by clients. In particular, references are used to evaluate experience, which in turn function as a proxy for how clients assess knowledge. Also, the study shows how the clients’ assessment of professional knowledge assets involves multiple levels and factors.
Limited research has been conducted to understand client preferences and PSF competitive advantage from a client perspective. This paper contributes to extant literature on knowledge management by integrating it with insights from recent developments within service marketing focusing on client centricity and the role of clients in value creation. This perspective complements and extends what is already known about knowledge management.
The paper suggests that while it is essential to manage knowledge as such, references and experience has a very central role in selling and commercializing knowledge-intensive services. Thus, to the degree that clients buy knowledge, sellers should think carefully about how experience and references are developed, captured and conveyed to clients. From a client point, the identified framework has value in offering a client-centric conceptualization of knowledge that can be used as a starting point in defining their knowledge needs and in structuring and professionalizing their purchasing efforts related to professional services.
Knowledge-intensive service organizations sell their knowledge and resources to clients directly as experts and indirectly through their services. It is therefore imperative for these organizations to understand how their knowledge is evaluated by buyers. The paper takes a unique client-centric perspective in understanding knowledge from a buyer’s point of view and as perceived by the buyer, which largely has been lacking in existing knowledge management research.
Skjølsvik, T. and Breunig, K. (2018), "Picking professionals: a client-centric knowledge assessment framework", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 333-345. https://doi.org/10.1108/MBE-01-2018-0001Download as .RIS
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