Issues, Strategies and Challenges
INTRODUCTION As was noted in Chapter 2, the speciﬁc characteristics of service activities inﬂuence the deﬁnition and measurement of productivity. Those same characteristics also aﬀect the nature of the levers of productivity and the productivity strategies that ﬁrms adopt. The literature in this area is particularly extensive. We propose, therefore, to oﬀer a simpliﬁed survey, focusing on the theoretical analyses and attempting to identify some general principles and results. We begin by examining, from an essentially theoretical perspective, some generic productivity levers in services (particularly technical and human levers). We then go on to identify some more general strategies (that is strategies based on a number of diﬀerent levers) that are deployed in service activities. Thus three groups of generic strategies are identiﬁed, which diﬀer in the levers used, the way in which the diﬀerent levers are incorporated into the strategy and the place occupied by productivity in the strict sense. The ﬁrst group is made up of productivity strategies that attempt to eliminate the speciﬁc characteristics of services (we will call them assimilation strategies), while the second consists of speciﬁc rationalization strategies that seek to take account of the speciﬁcities of services (we will call them particularist or diﬀerentiation strategies). The third group includes strategies that attempt, within the same company, to strike a balance between the two previous objectives (we will call them integration strategies). SOME PRODUCTIVITY LEVERS IN SERVICES In recent years, much...
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