University of Tasmania
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A Framework for service solution provision in professional service firms : transforming brand oriented people and knowledge oriented processes into superior service solution and brand equity

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posted on 2023-05-27, 11:49 authored by Siahtiri, V
Facing high velocity markets and increasingly dynamic and powerful environmental forces, many businesses across diverse industries are increasingly trying to solve their business problems by using the services of professional service firms (PSFs) whose primary offering is the application and delivery of specialised and intensive knowledge in the form of service solutions (Jaakkola and Hakanen 2013; Kapletia and Probert 2010; Williams and Nersessian 2007). These market changes have created both opportunities and challenges for PSFs, who are providers of service solutions to industrial and business customers. To contribute to the development of theory focusing on PSFs, this study takes the view that providing superior service solutions is the critical path to enhance brand equity and to position PSFs in their markets. A superior service solution is manifested through the interplay of processes underpinned by employee-leader and customer actions, which in this study encompass people-management processes and processes underpinned by the generation and use of knowledge, which here are seen as knowledge-management processes. Focusing on how PSFs provide superior service solutions and enhance their brand equity opens up opportunities to develop unique theory addressing critical issues facing PSFs. This study develops a theoretical framework underpinned by the solution literature and adopts literature from relationship marketing theory with a specific focus on customer cooperation in service provision process (CCSP) to develop its theory in the context of PSFs. Further, this study adopts leadership literature with the specific focus on brand specific transformational leadership theory, employee brand building behaviour theorising, and brand equity to investigate the people - and knowledge - management processes in PSFs that assist in providing superior service solution - which is quality and innovative- and create greater returns to the PSF in the form of brand equity. With its theoretical focus on people and knowledge management processes and branding this study makes a number of contributions to the service and branding literature, specifically in the context of PSFs. First, this study contributes to the literature by examining the extent that CCSP drives a PSF's brand equity through service solution superiority. Second, this study contributes to the literature by examining the effect of leadership style, specifically brand specific transformational leadership on injecting brand values into the CCSP process. This research advances the arguments raised by Storbacka et al. (2013), Fenton and Pettigrew (2006), and Galbraith (2002) that the [service] solution is dynamic in nature, and therefore; requires a transformational leadership style (Galbraith 2002). Third, this study contributes to the literature by addressing the calls for research by Baumgarth and Schmidt (2010), Leek and Christodoulides (2011), and Santos-Vijande et al (2013) who believe identifying internal organisational processes that generate consistent brand perceptions amongst employees is required. Fourth, this study responds to the recent call for further research by Chae (2012) on the effects of broad knowledge in knowledge intensive firms, specifically PSFs. This study contributes to the literature by examining the effect of deep and broad technical and customer knowledge on the superiority of service solutions and CCSP. Finally, this study contributes to the literature by examining and showing the effect of knowledge assimilation on different types of knowledge in knowledge intensive firms such as PSFs differs. This study extends the work of Zhou and Li (2012) by examining the differential effects of knowledge assimilation on deep and broad knowledge. This study employed a quantitative research methodology to examine and test the theoretical framework using an online survey protocol to collect the data. In particular, three surveys were designed and administrated following a multiple-informant design (De Luca and Atuahene-Gima 2007) to a sample of PSFs operating in B2B markets in Taiwan, resulting in data being collected from 150 PSFs. To analyse the data, a three-phase analytical strategy was adopted, with the first phase focusing on descriptive, the second phase focusing on preliminary analysis, and the third phase is hypothesis testing. SPSS was used for descriptive means and Partial Least Squares (PLS) were used for preliminary analysis and hypothesis testing. Overall, the findings show that a leader with a strong branding orientation and employees who demonstrate brand values in their daily work activities contribute strongly to the development of a PSF's cooperating with its business customers. Further, the study resolves the dilemma of the effect of CCSP on the superiority of service solutions, by showing that the effect of CCSP on the superiority of a service solution is more complex than expected. Moreover, the results show that the superiority of service solution enables the PSF to establish strong brand equity. Furthermore, it is shown that broad knowledge significantly contributes to the superiority of service solutions and CCSP. However, the effect of broad knowledge is improved if the PSF assimilates broad knowledge across the PSF. This study is among the first to focus on developing theory addressing specific issues of PSFs by identifying key antecedents and consequences of providing superior service solutions in B2B PSFs, as it is believed that PSFs require specific theory that suit their context (Fenton and Pettigrew 2006; Greenwood et al. 2005). Managers can adopt the findings to guide decisions and practices within their firms.


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