Articulating the service concept in professional service firms

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study proposes 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.
Methodology: 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: 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: The study contributes propositions related to the value of articulating a shared service concept as a means of minimizing the challenges of PSFs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-616
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Service Management
Issue number3
Early online date16 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2017


  • professional service firms
  • service concept
  • narrative
  • cat herding


Dive into the research topics of 'Articulating the service concept in professional service firms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this