Organizing Interdependent Co-Production of Services in Space and Time:
Working and Learning Across Boundaries
Jon Erland Lervik
Lancaster University (UK)
Lancaster University (UK)
BI Norwegian School of Management (Norway)
Call for papers
The output delivered by service firms are usually co-produced between the client/customer and the service provider. In the case of complex service offerings that requires multiple inputs from specialized experts or teams, there are organizing challenges in co-production between interdependent actors within the service organizations. In many industries there is also a shift from manufacturing towards product-service systems, which require coordination between traditional product side and the new service business within the firm. From these interdependencies within and across boundaries of organizations follows heightened requirements for coordination, collaboration, and organizational learning in service organizations.
We invite contributions that address organizing challenges in providing services that requires extensive collaboration, coordination, and knowledge sharing across space and time.
The first dimension – space – refers to the provision of complex services that require interaction and contribution of work from multiple experts or units that are geographically dispersed within an organization or its larger network of suppliers and partner organizations. Interdependent work tasks introduce organizing challenges, the need for coordination and knowledge sharing. The special characteristics of service provision increase the challenges when we consider services that require the input and coordination of activities from several employees from various professional disciplines and/or multiple locations. Service work needs to be coordinated across organizational boundaries, between subunits within the organization, on the firm – customer interface, and between the firm and suppliers and partner organizations in its broader network. Coordinated service work also face boundaries related to identity, cultural/institutional differences, geographical distance, and different bodies of professional knowledge.
The second dimension – time – refers to historical and future interdependencies. In many industries there is a shift from firms delivering products to delivery of product-service systems. The up-front investment in large technical systems or infrastructure is followed by a long tail of services, maintenance and upgrades over the life-span of an investment. Examples include provision of control systems for airports, ships, building of dams, bridges, toll roads etc. Services through the life span of large technical systems and infrastructure projects span lifetimes of 20 to 30 years. This raises several challenges:
- What is required for providing services, maintenance and upgrades to 20 year old technical systems? What kind of 'information infrastructure' do organizations rely on? How is knowledge and information 'stored' and made available in organizations, how do organizations manage to 'know what they know'?
- Do organizations learn from providing services and is feedback from customer interaction valued, brought back and actively used in the organization? What role does the customer interaction play for innovation in services, and for feedback to next generation product designs?
Currently there is much emphasis on knowledge management, particularly codification strategies for making information explicit and storing it databases. In this track we also want to explore the importance of social interaction and other ways in which organizations manage 'knowing what they know'. This can involve interpersonal knowledge sharing, social integration mechanisms, human resource management practices, etc.
We invite theoretically grounded empirical papers and conceptual papers that shed light on working and learning across time and space in complex service organizations. We aim at a diversity of theoretical perspectives in the collection of papers in the sub-theme. Individual papers may take one theoretical perspective as its starting point or compare/integrate various perspectives. Suggested theoretical perspectives may include (though not exhaustive): resource-based view; evolutionary theory and organizational routines; dynamic capabilities; organizational learning; situated knowing; communities of practice; actor-network theory; and activity theory.
Papers addressing the following topics are particularly welcome:
- Organizations shifting from products to product-service offerings and the implications for work organization and learning
- Organizations learning from customers in the process of providing services
- Role of customer interaction in service innovation and business development
- Analyses of how complex, interdependent service work is configured, organized, and coordinated
- What kind of organizational strategies, structures and processes support service work performed at multiple, interdependent locations
- Formal and informal coordination mechanisms that facilitate interdependent service work
- Geographical, institutional, identity or knowledge-related boundaries that impede collaboration; mechanisms for overcoming/transcending boundaries
- Role of ICT, knowledge management systems, artefacts, prototypes and other boundary objects in complex service organizations
- Transfer and replication of capabilities, knowledge and service offerings in multiple locations
About the convenors
Jon Erland Lervik is a research associate at Lancaster University Management School. He received his PhD from Norwegian School of Management BI, with a thesis on transfer of organizational practices in multinational corporations. Lervik's interests are knowledge creation and sharing and organizational change processes in complex organizations. His research has been published in Human Resource Management Journal, Management Learning, Academy of Management Executive and Human Resource Development International. A member of EGOS since 2000, he has attended six EGOS Colloquia.
Mark Easterby-Smith is Professor of Management Learning at Lancaster University, and immediate past President of the British Academy of Management. He has written extensively on management research methodology, organizational learning, dynamic capabilities, and management in China. In 2003 he was appointed a Senior Fellow of the UK's Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) research initiative. He is currently principle investigator on three research projects: (i) organizational learning and dynamic capabilities within large and small organizations, (ii) the competitive strategies of successful multinationals operating in the China market, and (iii) the way high technology companies attempt to learn from their customers.
Ragnhild Kvålshaugen is Associate Professor at BI Norwegian School of Management. Her research interest is on organizational learning, leader-member relations, and knowledge management. She has co-authored two books, and her research have been published in journals as California Management Review, Advances in Applied Strategy, Organization Studies, and various Nordic journals. She is currently responsible for a research project on international services. Kvålshaugen was one of the members of the program committee and acted as one of the convenors of the sub-theme on Communities of Practice, Learning and Performance at the EGOS Colloquium in Bergen, 2006.