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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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Siahtiri, V (2014) 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. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2014 the author

Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2016 01:27
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2016 16:00
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