University of Twente Student Theses


Enhancing KIBS performances by successful customer interactions: an enabling organisation as accelerator for successful service interactions: a study within the ICT and engineering sector

Belt, Myrthe van de (2009) Enhancing KIBS performances by successful customer interactions: an enabling organisation as accelerator for successful service interactions: a study within the ICT and engineering sector.

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Abstract:Both the number and the impact of organisations that are providing Knowledge Intensive Business Services (KIBS) is growing. A consequence of the current knowledge based service economy is that customers are becoming more sophisticated and more demanding towards the offerings by organisations. In the light of these trends KIBS are challenged to provide services that add value and contribute to the competitive advantage of their customer’s organisation. A characteristics of these complex services is that they are formed during a process of intense interaction between the customer and service consultant. For KIBS it is thus crucial to support service consultants in their interactions with customer. Many organisations however seem to be stuck in managerial and government systems designed during the Industrial Era which actually restrains service consultants in their interactions with customers. This question that is answered within this study is: What are the main enabling conditions within Knowledge Intensive Business Services that support service consultants in their interaction with customers? The study focuses in particular on the ICT and the engineering consulting sector. Enabling conditions are identified on individual level, the organisational level and the customer level. On the individual level it is not only important that service consultants have a solid expertise based background, ‘softer’ skills such as knowledge about the individual customer situation, social skills and knowledge on the integrated value the organisation can offer its customers are gaining importance. In addition, as customers are partially integrated within the boundaries of the firm customers can actually provide valuable knowledge or facilitate the service process by acting as a coproducer. As organisational conditions coordinate service consultant’s daily behaviour, organisational conditions can either accelerate or restrain service interactions. The organisational level is thus a main determinant whether characteristics on the individual and customer level are exploited to their full extent. The management of knowledge worker asks for a delicate balance between coordinated action while allowing room for creative processes, innovation and flexibility. This study states that congruence between normative coordination and structural coordination supports high levels of both performance and involvement. Characteristics of an enabling culture are a focus on autonomy, an improvement orientation, interdepartmental communication and an HR orientation. Congruence with formal structures is created when practices provide internal and global transparency, flexibility and repair. The combination of these characteristics leads to a collective frame of reference among service consultants on organisational priorities while allowing individual flexibility. Organisational leadership takes an important role in achieving this type of enabling organisation. Transformational leadership aims to activate employee’s motivation for higher order values, arousing emotions to work and perform beyond simple transactions. Leadership behaviour characterised by idealised influence, inspirational motivation, individual consideration and intellectual stimulation combined with transactional elements stimulates both service consultant’s creativity and efforts to perform tasks more effectively. 7 Results of this study indicate that in practice KIBS perceive it to be quite challenging to achieve an optimal coordination of resources. Within both sectors service consultants can act quite autonomous and flexible, cultures do however not highly stimulate interdepartmental communication. This is reflected in formal practices that do not contribute to a broader understanding of the organisation’s activities or reflect organisational goals and values. It are mainly these characteristics that contribute to an active understanding on the future direction of the organisation which stimulates service consultant’s abilities to determine the exact value that can be offered to customers. In addition, these characteristics create awareness on which knowledge is valuable to incorporate as organisational ‘best practices’ in the light of organisational directions. Furthermore, outcomes illustrate that current leadership behaviour does not fully achieve the desired balance between coordination and flexibility. This may be a consequence of the fact that a congruence between organisational cultures and formal practices is not perceived to be highly relevant. A consequence is that leaders do not actually encourage service consultants to act on institutionalised knowledge that supports the vision of the organisation while regarding the environment as source of opportunity to explore new ways of doing things. Although these challenges are quite similar within both sectors they do result from different market characteristics. The ICT sector is rather market focused in order to stay on top of customer preferences and innovative (modularised) service developments. The focus on customer identification however leads to a lack of shared perceptions on organisational directions and frame of reference on organisational priorities and internal strengths. Engineering consultants do have developed an internalised cognitive structure serving as a collective frame of reference. This frame of reference is however highly focused on individual expertise. Service consultants act rather autonomous during customers relationships that are often based on a recognition of each other’s valuable expertise. This normative focus on expertise however does not stimulate collaborative behaviour across multiple disciplines throughout the organisation. Both sectors desire a more market oriented approach towards their services beyond the expertise of individual service consultants. The influence of organisational conditions on achievement of these goals is however not fully recognised. A higher congruence between normative and structural coordination will be required in order to exploit benefits of highly skilled, autonomous service consultants with a drive to improve their services. Only when service interactions are approached as a bilateral process of knowledge transfer wherein service consultants are able to incorporate broader organisational capabilities, and collectively support the future direction of the organisation both customer value as organisational value can be achieved. This is key to achieve the strategic objectives of KIBS: services that provide maximum customer value in order to create long term customer relationships.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Twijnstra Gudde
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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