How different is professional service operations management?

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This paper presents detailed analysis of the operational and operations management characteristics of a professional service firm, a legal partnership. An in-depth study of customer interactions, service customization, process throughput and variability, professional employee behavior and managerial interventions provided the basis for confirmatory and exploratory research. The results suggested a number of refinements to existing conceptualizations of the professional service type operation and indicated areas where professional service operations management should be viewed as highly distinctive. First, professional-client exchange is variably asymmetrical - with significant implications for service package and process design. Second, professional service operations comprise a substantial number of less variable and faster throughput processes - creating a significant opportunity for commoditization. Third, professional status and corresponding organisational structures (e.g. the partnership model) need to be explicitly recognised in any typology - these factors introduce distinctive trade-offs when seeking greater efficiency and effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Operations Management
Issue number1-2
Early online date5 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


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