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Article
Publication date: 11 June 2021

Krishna Chaitanya Balthu and Ben Clegg

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how action research-based interventions can effect change in a complex and challenging professional service environment (Lewis…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how action research-based interventions can effect change in a complex and challenging professional service environment (Lewis and Brown, 2012). This paper presents a successful way to do this. First, by eliciting factors for change driven by deregulation in the United Kingdom’s (UK) legal service sector (Falconer, 2005). Second, by designing and implementing context-sensitive change in a selected legal service firm.

Design/methodology/approach

This research adopts a participatory action research methodology involving the use of systems thinking (namely the PrOH modelling methodology) to design suitable interventions and catalyse change.

Findings

This study has generated new knowledge on three fronts–to the legal service operations, to methodology and to the intellectual framework used for abductive reasoning (Checkland and Poulter, 2006). Lessons are transferable to wider professional service operations research. Findings indicate, despite traditional challenges of delivering typical professional services, there is potential for rationalising processes and service delivery commodification, mainly in the low volume, high variety legal service typology (Silvestro et al., 1992).

Research limitations/implications

This research uses data from an in-depth study of a single organisation.

Practical implications

This research helped legal service professionals to improve overall efficiency and effectiveness and create new management tools.

Social implications

This research could help improve legal service operations and make them more accessible.

Originality/value

This research applies a novel, systems thinking based methodology for the first time in a complex professional service operations environment leading to three-fold contributions in the areas of practice, theory and methodology. The paper uses a change management framework (the Change Kaleidoscope), a soft systems methodology (PrOH modelling) and applies these to legal services.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 41 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 April 1990

Jean Harvey

Little attention has been given in the literature to operatingdecisions in professional service organisations. A better understandingof the power relationships within a…

Abstract

Little attention has been given in the literature to operating decisions in professional service organisations. A better understanding of the power relationships within a professional service organisation provides insight into the way these decisions are made. A model is proposed which categorises professional service organisations according to the relative power of the major stakeholders: professionals within the organisation; clients; and top management. The major factors which affect each of these are discussed.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 May 2020

Anupama Prashar

This paper presents an exploratory study to understand the distinctive quality dimensions of high-contact Professional Service Firms (PSFs) and develop a conceptual model…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper presents an exploratory study to understand the distinctive quality dimensions of high-contact Professional Service Firms (PSFs) and develop a conceptual model for Quality Management (QM). The paper is based on empirical evidences from multiple cases in leading Indian law firms.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopted an exploratory, multiple, embedded and comparative case study design. The empirical evidence from multiple case studies in 10 law firms (data includes 42 individual interviews, archival records, field notes) was used to explore the QM dimensions for PSFs.

Findings

The results showed that QM in PSFs is a multifaceted and continuous process rather than a straightforward and episodic one. The findings reveal three distinctive dimensions of QM for PSFs: managing the firm's image; managing the client-firm interaction and support processes and; managing the perceived value of service outcome. Further, the results showed a significant variation in the design of QM practices in a relatively homogenous group of PSFs (law firms). This reflected the influence of personnel and organizational characteristics on the QM.

Research limitations/implications

The research is based on evidences collected from 10 Indian law firms and the research design is exploratory in nature. The future research is suggested in terms of extending the scope and research design.

Practical implications

The insights obtained from the paper have implications for managers working on the design of service operations and particularly service quality in high-contact PSFs similar to law firms. While the study does not prescribe a standard design of QM systems for PSFs, it seeks to foster the thinking of managers by helping them conceptualize the broad quality-control checkpoints and quality attributes specific to PSF settings

Originality/value

The academic research in the management of professional service quality is dominated by conceptual/theoretical models for customer evaluation of service provider's performance and the issue of operationalization of QM in PSFs is still needs further investigation. This paper contributes to the theory of service operations management (SOM) by focusing on the structure of QM systems in PSFs.

Details

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 38 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-671X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Ahmad Beltagui, Kjartan Sigurdsson, Marina Candi and Johann C.K.H. Riedel

The purpose of this paper is to propose a solution to the challenges of professional service firms (PSF), which are referred to as cat herding, opaque quality and lack of…

2559

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a solution to the challenges of professional service firms (PSF), which are referred to as cat herding, opaque quality and lack of process standardization. These result from misalignment in the mental pictures that managers, employees and customers have of the service. The study demonstrates how the process of articulating a shared service concept reduces these challenges.

Design/methodology/approach

A narrative methodology is used to analyze the perspectives of old management, new management and employees during organizational change in a PSF – a website design company growing to offer full-service branding. Group narratives are constructed using longitudinal data gathered through interviews and fieldwork, in order to compare the misaligned mental pictures and show the benefits of articulating the service concept.

Findings

Professional employees view growth and change as threats to their culture and practice, particularly when new management seeks to standardize processes. These threats are revealed to stem from misinterpretations caused by miscommunication of intentions and lack of participation in decision making. Articulating a shared service concept helps to align understanding and return the firm to equilibrium.

Research limitations/implications

The narrative methodology helps unpack conflicting perspectives, but is open to claims of subjectivity and misrepresentation. To ensure fairness and trustworthiness, informants were invited to review and approve the narratives.

Originality/value

The study contributes propositions related to the value of articulating a shared service concept as a means of minimizing the challenges of PSFs.

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 28 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 February 2018

Joy M. Field, Liana Victorino, Ryan W. Buell, Michael J. Dixon, Susan Meyer Goldstein, Larry J. Menor, Madeleine E. Pullman, Aleda V. Roth, Enrico Secchi and Jie J. Zhang

The purpose of this paper is to present exciting and innovative research questions in service operations that are aligned with eight key themes and related topics…

4811

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present exciting and innovative research questions in service operations that are aligned with eight key themes and related topics determined by the Journal of Service Management (JOSM) Service Operations Expert Research Panel. By offering a good number of such research questions, this paper provides a broad range of ideas to spur conceptual and empirical research related to service operations and encourage the continued creation of deep knowledge within the field, as well as collaborative research across disciplines that develops and incorporates insights from service operations.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a Delphi study, described in the companion article, “Service Operations: What Have We Learned?,” the panel identified eight key research themes in service operations where leading-edge research is being done or has yet to be done (Victorino et al., 2018). In this paper, three or four topics within each theme are selected and multiple questions for each topic are proposed to guide research efforts. The topics and questions, while wide-ranging, are only representative of the many ongoing research opportunities related to service operations.

Findings

The field of service operations has many interesting research topics and questions that are largely unexplored. Furthermore, these research areas are not only increasingly integrative across multiple themes within operations but often transcend functional disciplines. This creates opportunities for ever more impactful research with a greater reach throughout the service system and suggests that service researchers, regardless of functional affiliation, can contribute to the ongoing conversation on the role of service operations in value creation.

Originality/value

Leveraging the collective knowledge of the JOSM Service Operations Expert Research Panel to expand on the research themes generated from the Delphi study, novel questions for future study are put forward. Recognizing that the number of potential research questions is virtually unlimited, summary questions by theme and topic are also provided. These questions represent a synopsis of the individual questions and can serve as a quick reference guide for researchers interested in pursuing new directions in conceptual and empirical research in service operations. This summary also serves as a framework to facilitate the formulation of additional research topics and questions.

Article
Publication date: 25 February 2021

Francesco Pillitteri, Erica Mazzola and Manfredi Bruccoleri

The study focuses on the value co-creation processes in humanitarian professional services provision, analysing the key enabling factors of beneficiaries' participation…

Abstract

Purpose

The study focuses on the value co-creation processes in humanitarian professional services provision, analysing the key enabling factors of beneficiaries' participation, involved in long-term integration programmes (L-TIPs).

Design/methodology/approach

Through an in-depth case study, the research looks at the practices of value co-creation in humanitarian professional services, considering both the perspectives of the professional service provider and beneficiary.

Findings

In professional services beneficiary's participation affects the success of the L-TIPs outcomes. Participation's enablers can be classified into four different spheres, each belonging to different elements of professional service: the beneficiary, the professionals, the service design and the external environment.

Research limitations/implications

This paper contributes to the literature on humanitarian operations & supply chain management. By focussing on an understudied phase of the disaster life-cycle management, it contributes to the theory of value co-creation by exploring new issues and drivers of beneficiary's participation.

Practical implications

This research has interesting implications for policymakers and humanitarian practitioners. First, guidelines for professionals' behaviours and interventions should be designed as well as new practices and strategies should be adopted. Second, governments should avoid concentrating L-TIPs in few big humanitarian centres.

Originality/value

The study focuses on an understudied stage of humanitarian operations, namely the L-TIPs, and uses this setting to build on the theory of value co-creation in professional services by identifying its enabling factors, clustered into four spheres, namely beneficiary, professional, service design and environmental.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 18 December 2020

Jas Kalra, Michael Lewis and Jens K. Roehrich

This paper aims to investigate governance in service triads, specifically studying significant steering and connecting coordination failures, to reveal typically hidden…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate governance in service triads, specifically studying significant steering and connecting coordination failures, to reveal typically hidden characteristics and consequences.

Design/methodology/approach

This study focuses on coordination functions and activities between a buyer (a government department), a customer (a military service) and two service providers. Rich data on these normally confidential service ties are drawn from an official report into the causes of a fatal accident involving a UK reconnaissance aircraft and specifically from the evidence presented regarding the earlier development of its complex safety case. The authors also analysed a range of additional secondary data sources.

Findings

The authors examine the sources, drivers and manifestation of coordination failures. The authors uncover a series of coordination failures driven from the bridge position, revealing that while bounded rationality and opportunism influenced steering coordination failures, connecting coordination failures were associated with knowledge asymmetry, dyadic inertia and unethical practices.

Practical implications

Organisations and governments delivering complex projects and knowledge-intensive professional services should guard against outsourcing the “coordination” activity to a third party, thereby relinquishing the bridge position. Handing over the bridge position to an integrator would leave the client vulnerable to coordination dysfunctions such as bounded rationality, opportunism, knowledge asymmetry, dyadic inertia and unethical practices.

Originality/value

The study links the previously separate research streams of service triads and inter-organizational coordination. While extant research pays attention to mainly positive control functions, this study focuses on all three actors in two (failed) service triads – and highlights the impact of coordination activities and failures.

Article
Publication date: 14 October 2019

Zuoming Liu and Vaidyanathan Jayaraman

This paper aims to investigate how the professional service outsourcing (PSO) firm’s external knowledge integration with global clients, internal integration across…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate how the professional service outsourcing (PSO) firm’s external knowledge integration with global clients, internal integration across various functional units and the synergistic effects between them in improving PSO performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on the theory of organizational learning, a conceptual framework is proposed with hypothesized relationships. The relationships in this conceptual model were tested using a structural equation model (SEM) to analyze a survey dataset including 192 Indian-based professional service providers.

Findings

A service provider’s performance is positively associated with its external integration with global clients and internal integration across various functional units. Synergistic effect is generated from balanced high-level external and internal integration in improving PSO performance.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to the much-needed efforts in studying PSO, a new and fast-growing cross-border professional service activity, and provides helpful managerial implications to practicing global clients and offshore PSO service providers on how to successfully manage and govern the outsourcing process to achieve expected benefits.

Originality/value

This study focuses on offshore service provider’s viewpoint to extend traditional supply-chain integration regarding cooperative and mutually beneficial mechanisms to the context of PSO.

Details

Journal of Global Operations and Strategic Sourcing, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-5364

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 February 2018

Max Finne

The purpose of this paper is to take a professional service operation (PSO) perspective to reconceptualise a persistent pedagogical dilemma of teaching large classes into…

1041

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to take a professional service operation (PSO) perspective to reconceptualise a persistent pedagogical dilemma of teaching large classes into a process design challenge. This enables developing a solution that reduces labour intensity and improves the customisation of teaching.

Design/methodology/approach

This work is based on a single-case analysis of an undergraduate operations management course taught at a UK-based global top-50 business school. The research process follows the design science approach where a prior course design is analysed and a redesign is presented, refined and tested using data on student satisfaction.

Findings

The course redesign is based on the flipped learning pedagogy, and uses a combination of process analysis and educational science perspectives. The redesign seems to provide the benefits to students without increasing labour intensity. The developed six-step systematic approach should reduce the labour intensity of university-level teaching operations, while providing additional possibilities for customisable in-class active learning.

Research limitations/implications

The empirical findings from the single-case design cannot be directly generalised to other contexts. However, the developed six-step systematic approach for redesigning the university-level teaching process should be applicable to other teaching operations to drive value creation and improve processes.

Originality/value

This study shows how the resource-constrained value creation of teaching operations can be improved systematically using process analysis perspectives. The work also scrutinises the flipped learning pedagogy from a PSO perspective and shows its benefits for improving teaching operations compared to traditional lecturing.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 38 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 15 March 2022

Rachel Gifford, Taco van der Vaart, Eric Molleman and M. Christien van der Linden

Emergency care delivery is a process requiring input from various healthcare professionals within the hospital. To deliver efficient and effective emergency care…

Abstract

Purpose

Emergency care delivery is a process requiring input from various healthcare professionals within the hospital. To deliver efficient and effective emergency care, professionals must integrate rapidly at multiple interfaces, working across functional, spatial and professional boundaries. Yet, the interdisciplinary nature of emergency care presents a challenge to the optimization of patient flow, as specialization and functional differentiation restrict integration efforts. This study aims to question what boundaries exist at the level of professionals and explores how these boundaries may come to influence integration and operational performance.

Design/methodology/approach

To provide a more holistic understanding of the inherent challenges to integration at the level of professionals and in contexts where professionals play a key role in determining operational performance, the authors carried out an in-depth case study at a busy, Level 1 trauma center in The Netherlands. In total, 28 interviews were conducted over an 18-month period.

Findings

The authors reveal the existence of structural, relational and cultural barriers between (medical) professionals from different disciplines. The study findings demonstrate how relational and cultural boundaries between professionals interrupt flows and delay service processes.

Originality/value

This study highlights the importance of interpersonal and cultural dynamics for internal integration and operational performance in emergency care processes. The authors unveil how the presence of professional boundaries creates opportunity for conflict and delays at important interfaces within the emergency care process, and can ultimately accumulate, disrupting patient flow and increasing lead times.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 42 no. 13
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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