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Managing Quality in a Service Context
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Quality Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2013 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In recent years, service organizations have had to increase the number of offerings they provide. These organizations face difficulties in changing their internal processes to provide high-quality offerings. With the increase in demand for delivered services and competitive organizations from low-cost countries, service organizations currently face several issues. Today’s service organizations combine products and services into a solution to improve their competitiveness. These organizations experience changes in customer expectations depending on what they offer. That is, expectations, demands,  and wishes change depending on the offering that a customer uses. Thus,  service organizations need to know how expectations for quality change based on offerings and how they can work to change certain emphasized quality aspects. Hence, the aim of this licentiate thesis is to contribute to the knowledge of how to manage quality in a service context.

This licentiate thesis is based on three different studies. One study is based on a number of self-assessment studies conducted at 138 Swedish service organizations using a total of more than 5,000 respondents. In the second study, data was collected over a five-year period through a literature review, interviews, a document study, and observations to capture the quality profile and associated interventions. The second study was conducted in a service organization in the public transportation industry. In the third study, a literature review was performed to provide theoretical propositions for developing a conceptual model. The conceptual model was built on theories from product quality, service quality, service logic, and solutions.

The findings revealed that a service organization could change the performance level of a quality principle if the correct interventions are used. Furthermore, a service organization immature in quality management emphasizes one or two quality principles and, after the initial phase focuses on other principles as well. Therefore, if a service organization wants to change its quality profile pattern, it must change its emphasis on certain norms and principles. A further finding is the proposed solution’s quality concept and its six quality dimensions: (i) reliability, (ii) flexibility, (iii) consistency, (iv) empathy, (v) approachability, and (vi) tangibility. Furthermore, a model connecting the empirical findings in a quality concepts model is proposed. This model shows that the need exists to change work activities if the service  organization changes strategic direction, that is, changes the number of offerings offered.

Abstract [sv]

Under senare år har svenska tjänsteorganisationer ökat bredden av erbjudanden till sina kunder. En del av dessa organisationer har svårigheter med att ändra sina interna processer för att kunna leverera hög kvalitet på hela bredden av erbjudanden, som produkter, tjänst och helhetslösning. Med ökade krav på tjänster och konkurrens från lågkostnadsländer, står tjänsteorganisationer för närvarande inför flera utmaningar. Många av dagens tjänsteorganisationer, exempelvis tillverkningsföretag, kombinerar produkter och tjänster i så kallade lösningar för att förbättra sin konkurrenskraft. Dessa organisationer upplever förändringar i kundernas förväntningar beroende på vad de erbjuder. Det vill säga förväntningar, krav och önskemål förändras beroende på vilket erbjudande som kunden använder. Således behöver tjänsteorganisationerna veta hur förväntningar på kvalitet förändras utifrån erbjudande och hur de kan arbeta med att förbättra de dimensioner av kvalitet som är viktiga för kunden. Därmed är syftet med denna licentiatavhandling att bidra till kunskapen om hur organisationer kan styra sitt kvalitetsarbete på strategisk nivå i en tjänstekontext.

Denna licentiatavhandling bygger på tre olika studier. En av studierna är baserad på ett antal självutvärderingsstudier genomförda vid 138 svenska tjänsteorganisationer. Den andra studiens material samlades in under en femårsperiod genom en litteraturstudie, intervjuer, dokumentstudier och observationer för att fånga organisationens kvalitetsprofil. Denna studie genomfördes i en tjänsteorganisation inom kollektivtrafiken. Under den tredje studien genomfördes en litteraturstudie för att ta fram en konceptuell modell för vad kvalitet är på en lösning. Den konceptuella modellen byggdes på teorier från produktkvalitet, tjänstekvalitet, tjänstelogik och helhetslösningar.

Resultaten visar att en tjänsteorganisation kan ändra prestation på en kvalitetsprincip om rätt åtgärder används. En tjänsteorganisation som är omogen inom kvalitetsstyrning fokuserar på en eller två kvalitetsprinciper. Först efter den inledande fasen fokuserar organisationen på ytterligare principer. För att tjänsteorganisationen ska kunna ändra utseende på sin kvalitetsprofil måste den aktivt arbeta med att ändra kvalitetsprincip i fokus. Ett ytterligare resultat är den konceptuella modellen över helhetslösningskvalitet och dess sex dimensioner: (i) tillförlitlighet, (ii) flexibilitet, (iii) överensstämmande, (iv) empati (v) tillgänglighet, och (vi) påtaglighet. Dessutom presenteras en modell som visar att behovet finns att byta arbetsuppgifter och åtgärder om tjänsteorganisationen ändrar strategisk inriktning, det vill säga ändrar antalet erbjudanden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. , 58 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1579
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-88731Local ID: LiU-TEK-Lic 2013:13ISBN: 978-91-7519-686-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-88731DiVA: diva2:605730
Presentation
2013-02-25, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-02-15 Created: 2013-02-15 Last updated: 2014-01-10Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Changing quality initiative - does the quality profile really change?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changing quality initiative - does the quality profile really change?
2013 (English)In: Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, ISSN 1478-3363, E-ISSN 1478-3371, Vol. 24, no 1, 79-90 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A firm working with quality management over time may change from total quality management to Six Sigma to lean production, but does this actually change the firm's quality profile? This paper seeks to identify specific quality profiles in service firms and how these profiles change over time. The empirical investigation is based on self-assessment studies conducted in 138 Swedish service firms. The results show that service firms often build up a specific quality profile, which they retain over time. The paper develops theoretical and managerial implications based on the research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2013
Keyword
quality management; quality profile; quality principles; change management
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-89629 (URN)10.1080/14783363.2012.707868 (DOI)000327929600006 ()
Available from: 2013-02-28 Created: 2013-02-28 Last updated: 2017-12-06
2. Using interventions to change the quality profile of an organisation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using interventions to change the quality profile of an organisation
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, ISSN 1756-669X, E-ISSN 1756-6703, Vol. 5, no 1, 32-45 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose − The purpose of the present study is to investigate how a quality profile can evolve over time and, in particular, how different kinds of interventions can further develop or change an existing quality profile.

Methodology/approach − Data was collected over a five-year period, including a literature review, interviews, a document study and observations to capture the quality profile and associated interventions. The study was carried out in a service organisation in the public sector.

Findings − This study shows that the quality profile can change over time due to the use of specific interventions. If a company wants to emphasise a specific quality principle, it must target the quality principle with one or moreinterventions. However, even if a quality principle is targeted, there is no guarantee that the quality principle will show improvement in the quality profile. Also, One main finding is that the quality profile becomes more even over time due to the internal consistency of the quality principles.

Research limitations/implications − This paper sheds light on the need to study the adoption of individual quality principles and the evolution of the quality profile of an organisation.

Practical implications − The results can provide insights for organisations aiming to embark on a quality programme, specifically how to design and develop a quality profile.

Originality/value − This research implies that the quality profile is a recurring, general phenomenon in all quality management improvement programmes. In other words, successful implementation of quality management requires a cohesive quality profile.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2013
Keyword
Quality management, Quality principles, Quality profile, Service organisations
National Category
Business Administration Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-88729 (URN)10.1108/17566691311316239 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-02-15 Created: 2013-02-15 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. What is quality in a manufacturing firm?: Understanding the quality of products, services and solutions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What is quality in a manufacturing firm?: Understanding the quality of products, services and solutions
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the possibilities and difficulties that manufacturing firms have regarding the quality of their offerings along the goods-to-services continuum. In particular, the paper identifies different quality dimensions for products, services and solutions.

Methodology/approach − Conceptual paper.

Findings − The paper presents a model on how a manufacturing firm can provide quality on offerings along the goods-to-services continuum. Furthermore, the paper identifies the quality dimensions that exist for products, services and solutions. For solutions, the paper identifies six quality dimensions and presents them through an empirical illustration. The six dimensions are (i) reliability, (ii) empathy, (iii) tangibility, (iv) approachability, (v) consistency and (vi) flexibility. A manufacturing firm must provide high-quality products, services and solutions, and the different types of quality might require different principles, practices and techniques.

Research limitations/implications − The model and the six developed quality dimensions are not tested empirically.

Originality/value − Few studies have addressed the quality of a solution provided by a manufacturing firm. The present research provides a framework for how solution quality is different from product and service quality. In addition, the paper provides an empirical illustration of how a firm can work with product, service and solution quality for the firm’s offerings.

Keyword
Quality management, Quality principles, Quality profile, Service organisations
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-88730 (URN)
Available from: 2013-02-15 Created: 2013-02-15 Last updated: 2013-02-15Bibliographically approved

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Johansson, Elisabeth

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