Service productivity: what stops service firms from measuring it?

Gianfranco Walsh, Peter Walgenbach, Heiner Evanschitzky, Mario Schaarschmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Productivity measurement poses a challenge for service organizations. Conventional management wisdom holds that this challenge is rooted in the difficulty of accurately quantifying service inputs and outputs. Few service firms have adequate service productivity measurement (SPM) systems in place and implementing such systems may involve organizational transformation. Combining field interviews and literature-based insights, the authors develop a conceptual model of antecedents of SPM in service firms and test it using data from 276 service firms. Results indicate that one out of five antecedents affects the choice to use SPM, namely, the degree of service standardization. In addition, all five hypothesized antecedents and one additional antecedent (perceived appropriateness of the current SPM) predict the degree of SPM usage. In particular, the degree of SPM is positively influenced by the degree of service standardization, service customization, investments in service productivity gains, and the appropriateness of current service productivity measures. In turn, customer integration and the perceived difficulty of measuring service productivity negatively affect SPM. The fact that customer integration impedes actual measurement of service productivity is a surprising finding, given that customer integration is widely seen as a means to increase service productivity. The authors conclude with implications for service organizations and directions for research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-25
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Organisational Transformation & Social Change on 19/4/16, available online:


  • behavioural theory of the firm
  • measurement
  • new institutional theory
  • resources and capabilities
  • service productivity


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