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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2001

Bo Edvardsson and Inger Roos

The traditional critical incident technique (CIT) and variants of the same have frequently been applied in service research for several decades. The technique has often…

Abstract

The traditional critical incident technique (CIT) and variants of the same have frequently been applied in service research for several decades. The technique has often been used to capture data on and analyse both negative and positive critical incidents. While one technique displays hosts of critical incidents in benchmark‐type series (SIT), another variant describes the dynamism in one discrete critical incident and a third the dynamism of the configuration of critical incidents (SPAT). In this article the different variants are discussed in relation to psychological theory focusing on the concepts of time, history and memory. To be able to analyse the criticality from the individual customer’s perspective, we argue that one must understand the significance of critical incidents in the light of human memory mechanisms and judgement processes. The discussion forms the basis for suggesting a new, tentative framework for analysing the criticality of critical incidents. We call this criticality critical incident technique (CCIT).

Details

International Journal of Service Industry Management, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0956-4233

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1997

Bernd Stauss and Bernhard Weinlich

Presents the current state of the methodological discussion on the measurement of perceived service quality. Describes two approaches ‐ attribute‐based methods and the…

Abstract

Presents the current state of the methodological discussion on the measurement of perceived service quality. Describes two approaches ‐ attribute‐based methods and the sequential incident technique (SIT). Outlines the concept and basic assumptions of SIT describes an empirical SIT study applied to measure the quality of perception of guests in club resort. Suggests that the SIT is a valuable complement to the traditional mix of quality measurement methods. Discusses a number of limitations of this method and sets out some managerial implications.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 14 November 2016

Gregory Bott and Dennis Tourish

The purpose of this paper is to offer a reconceptualization of the critical incident technique (CIT) and affirm its utility in management and organization studies.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to offer a reconceptualization of the critical incident technique (CIT) and affirm its utility in management and organization studies.

Design/methodology/approach

Utilizing a case study from a leadership context, the paper applies the CIT to explore various leadership behaviours in the context of nonprofit boards in Canada. Semi-structured critical incident interviews were used to collect behavioural data from 53 participants – board chairs, board directors, and executive directors – from 18 diverse nonprofit organizations in Alberta, Canada.

Findings

While exploiting the benefits of a typicality of events, in some instances the authors were able to validate aspects of transformational leadership theory, in other instances the authors found that theory falls short in explaining the relationships between organizational actors. The authors argue that the CIT potentially offers the kind of “thick description” that is particularly useful in theory building in the field.

Research limitations/implications

Drawing on interview material, the authors suggest that incidents can be classified based on frequency of occurrence and their salience to organizational actors, and explore the utility of this distinction for broader theory building purposes.

Practical implications

Principally, the paper proposes that this method of investigation is under-utilized by organization and management researchers. Given the need for thick description in the field, the authors suggest that the approach outlined generates exceptionally rich data that can illuminate multiple organizational phenomena.

Social implications

The role of nonprofit boards is of major importance for those organizations and the clients that they serve. This paper shed new light on the leadership dynamics at the top of these organizations and therefore can help to guide improved practice by those in board and senior management positions.

Originality/value

The CIT is a well-established technique. However, it is timely to revisit it as a core technique in qualitative research and promote its greater use by researchers. In addition, the authors offer a novel view of incidents as typical, atypical, prototypical or archetypal of organizational phenomena that extends the analytical value of the approach in new directions.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2005

Maria Holmlund‐Rytkönen and Tore Strandvik

One of the causes of change in business relationships comes from incidents that deviate in a positive or negative way from the expected and normal relationship pattern…

Abstract

Purpose

One of the causes of change in business relationships comes from incidents that deviate in a positive or negative way from the expected and normal relationship pattern. This introduces the concept of stress that captures the effect of negatively deviating incidents in business relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

Presents a technique, the negative critical incident mapping (NCIM), for measuring this kind of stress. The technique is used in an industrial service and a business service setting to measure stress in a dyadic manner.

Findings

The results show that not only were all studied relationships burdened with stress to a varying extent but there were also substantial differences in the degree and content of stress. The relationships showed significant differences when seller‐buyer pairs of stress perceptions were matched. Operator‐level perceptions of stress in the relationships corresponded better than manager‐level perceptions. Research and management implications from the new relationship stress concept conclude the paper.

Originality/value

The new relationship‐stress concept is useful for relationship‐dissolution and relationship‐strength researchers since it reveals a hidden risk factor to a business relationship that complements current understanding. For managers the value lies in being able to diagnose relationships at risk of being lost or to detect fundamental relationship problems.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 8 April 2014

Jonathan Lean, Jonathan Moizer and Robert Newbery

The purpose of this paper is to describe an approach for utilising a critical incident method within the context of an online business simulation game in order to provide…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe an approach for utilising a critical incident method within the context of an online business simulation game in order to provide an effective framework for reflective learning.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a review of pertinent literature to place the critical incident technique within the novel context of simulation gaming. Through presenting a case study of practice, it goes on to describe a blended learning approach that combines online simulation with post-simulation reflection based on the critical incident method. An action research approach is adopted as a framework for reflection on practice.

Findings

From a conceptual perspective, there are a number of potential benefits to employing a critical incident approach combined with simulation gaming. The ability of educators to compress time frames and manage the introduction of critical incidents allows students to learn in a way that would not be possible in the real world. Furthermore, carefully designed post-simulation debriefing, structured around a critical incident framework, has the potential to enhance the learning impact of online simulation.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited in that a single case study context is described. Further evaluation research is required to fully assess the benefits of the approach adopted.

Originality/value

The study explores the use of the critical incident approach within the novel context of online simulation gaming. It provides educators with a blended learning method that can be employed to enhance the impact of e-learning through structured reflection.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 56 no. 2/3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2000

Bo Edvardsson and Tore Strandvik

Focuses on the criticality of critical incidents in customer relationships. Aims to discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the notion of “critical” in a…

Abstract

Focuses on the criticality of critical incidents in customer relationships. Aims to discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the notion of “critical” in a critical incident. Why is something perceived as critical? What does it lead to? Is criticality a feature built into the service or is it a contextually‐defined phenomenon, depending both on the customer, the service provider, the interaction and the surrounding relationship environment? Suggests a contextual framework for describing, analysing and understanding critical incidents, based on the idea that critical incidents are always embedded in customer relationships. Two interdependent context dimensions are used: the time dimension, and the situational dimension. These elements, combined, lead to a focus on customer‐perceived and relationship‐oriented contexts, which reveal new insights into the role of critical incidents. This framework is used in an empirical study concerning business customers’ perceptions of “critical incidents” in their relationship with a hotel. The findings indicate that the majority of positive and negative critical incidents reported had only a minor impact on customer behavior.

Details

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-4529

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Article
Publication date: 12 June 2009

Jacqueline A. Douglas, Robert McClelland, John Davies and Lyn Sudbury

The aim of this paper is to compare the use of critical incident technique (CIT) for gathering student feedback in higher education (HE) with the more traditional and…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to compare the use of critical incident technique (CIT) for gathering student feedback in higher education (HE) with the more traditional and commonly used questionnaire survey method.

Design/methodology/approach

The investigation involved a critical evaluation of the standard self‐completion, multi‐question “tick‐box” quantitative survey questionnaire traditionally employed to collect student feedback in HE, against the more qualitative critical incident technique that was tested within the HE context. This evaluation was supported by a review of the extant literature to determine the advantages and disadvantages of both feedback methods and a comparison of the data gathered from university students using both survey instruments. Conclusions were then drawn regarding the value of both methods. The criteria used for the comparison were the design and administration of the survey instruments, analysis and quality of the data collected, and finally, the potential usefulness of the data to HE managers.

Findings

The main issue regarding suitability of approach is resource utilisation. The CIT questionnaire is much quicker and easier to design than the traditional questionnaire, asking only a small number of questions. However, completion, input and analysis of the CIT questionnaire take longer than the standard tick‐box questionnaire. The richness of the data more than compensates for these drawbacks. In principle, the qualitative critical incident technique should be used to complement the existing methods of gathering student feedback in order to find out what is significant to students. However, in practice, it is more likely that managers within HE will continue to use the more traditional survey questionnaire, because of the limited resources available to them.

Research limitations/implications

Not only is CIT a method that can be used by researchers in the education sector nationally and internationally, to gather rich and useful data about the student experience but it may also be useful for gathering information from other stakeholders.

Originality/value

The paper is the first to use CIT to gather feedback from students on their university experience. It proposes that, in order to obtain valid and reliable data on which to base service provision decisions, university management should consider using this qualitative technique in combination with more traditional quantitative methods of gathering student feedback.

Details

The TQM Journal, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2731

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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2012

Alan Coetzer, Janice Redmond and Jalleh Sharafizad

The purpose of this paper is to develop an understanding of factors that impinge on managerial decision‐making processes regarding employee access to structured training…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop an understanding of factors that impinge on managerial decision‐making processes regarding employee access to structured training and development (T&D) opportunities that are at least partially funded by the firm.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi‐structured interviews incorporating the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) were conducted with 14 managers of medium‐sized enterprises based in Perth, Western Australia. The interviews explored decisions managers have actually made regarding employee access to T&D and yielded 42 useable critical incidents that served as the unit of analysis.

Findings

There were three key findings: first, employee access to T&D was initiated primarily by managers; employees did not exhibit developmental proactivity. Regulatory requirements and performance deficits were the main factors triggering T&D. Second, decisions regarding employee access to T&D were influenced by a wider range of factors than the decision making factors that commonly feature in literature that discusses “barriers” to T&D in SMEs. Third, decision makers tended to neglect the evaluation phase of the decision making process and engaged in post‐decisional justification.

Research limitations/implications

The study holds a number of lessons that are based on an analysis of the authors' experiences of using the CIT. The lessons are potentially important for researchers who will be using the technique to study similar topics in the years ahead.

Originality/value

This study addresses the lack of research into factors that affect managers' decisions when they consider providing employee access to firm‐sponsored structured T&D opportunities. It also assesses the effectiveness of the CIT as a tool for studying managerial decision‐making processes regarding employee access to T&D opportunities.

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 36 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1998

Larry Lockshin and Gordon McDougall

A range of wine retailers identified critical incidents that had occurred with their suppliers. The resulting classification of the problems differed from previous…

Abstract

A range of wine retailers identified critical incidents that had occurred with their suppliers. The resulting classification of the problems differed from previous consumer studies by revealing primarily outcome problems, such as timeliness of delivery or delivery of complete order, rather than process‐based problems. The critical incident technique provided sufficient information to evaluate the suppliers’ recovery strategies. The effectiveness of recovery strategies was influenced by whether the problem was solved and the time and number of calls required to solve the problem. A major implication for managers in this industry was to anticipate potential difficulties and inform their customers. This proactive strategy would improve relationships with buyers and reduce defections.

Details

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, vol. 26 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-0552

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2003

Larry A. Mallak, David M. Lyth, Suzan D. Olson, Susan M. Ulshafer and Frank J. Sardone

The critical incident technique (CIT) provides a means to produce rich cultural information from organizational members in an effort to describe the organization’s…

Abstract

The critical incident technique (CIT) provides a means to produce rich cultural information from organizational members in an effort to describe the organization’s culture. Very few published studies have used CIT to diagnose culture. In combination with other methods, CIT can be an integral element of a larger study of an organization’s culture. In this study, CIT was used in a US acute care hospital that had recently occupied a new $181 million replacement hospital having an emphasis on patient‐centered care and a healing environment. Individual CIT “stories” supplied rich detail about the hospital’s culture, providing opportunities to communicate how people behave with respect to the culture. Consequently, CIT results provide specific information on what people do that supports the culture and what they do that works against the culture.

Details

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, vol. 16 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0952-6862

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