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Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11

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Journal of Operations Management
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How different is professional service operations management?
Michael A. Lewis a,∗ , Andrew D. Brown b,1
a
School of Management, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK
b
Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV47AL, UK

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: This paper presents detailed analysis of the operational and operations management characteristics
Received 1 April 2010 of a professional service firm, a legal partnership. An in-depth study of customer interactions, service
Received in revised form 21 April 2011 customization, process throughput and variability, professional employee behavior and managerial inter-
Accepted 25 April 2011
ventions provided the basis for confirmatory and exploratory research. The results suggested a number
Available online 6 May 2011
of refinements to existing conceptualizations of the professional service type operation and indicated
areas where professional service operations management should be viewed as highly distinctive. First,
Keywords:
professional–client exchange is variably asymmetrical – with significant implications for service pack-
Case/field study
Organisational behavior
age and process design. Second, professional service operations comprise a substantial number of less
Productivity variable and faster throughput processes – creating a significant opportunity for commoditization. Third,
Service operations professional status and corresponding organisational structures (e.g. the partnership model) need to be
explicitly recognised in any typology – these factors introduce distinctive trade-offs when seeking greater
efficiency and effectiveness.
© 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction Typical discussions emphasize the “guiding, nudging, and persuad-
ing” (Malhotra et al., 2006, p. 175) of professional employees rather
In 2010 one of the largest law firms in the UK published research than, for example, the implementation of standard operating pro-
highlighting that legal service providers were increasingly facing a cedures (Kellogg and Nie, 1995, p. 329). This article is organized
buyer’s market, with downward pressure on fees and correspond- around two guiding research questions: (1) Do the characteristics of
ing need for increased efficiencies. A few months earlier, in late a specific professional service operation (a law partnership) reflect
2009, a LexisNexis study of the US legal market had revealed sig- the generic characterizations of the PSO type? (2) How, if at all,
nificant client dissatisfaction with how law firms had responded in do these observed characteristics shape the distinctive nature of
terms of their costs and billing structures to the economic down- PSOM?
turn. Yet, although becoming more efficient is increasingly seen as The setting for this confirmatory, albeit without formal hypothe-
the strategic challenge in legal – and other knowledge-intensive ses to be tested (Smith et al., 2009), and exploratory research
(Drucker, 1999) – services, there has been relatively little OM seeking to develop novel insight, understanding and theory
research in this sector (Machuca et al., 2007). This article explores enhancement (Karwan and Markland, 2006), was the UK legal ser-
the characteristics of a specific professional service operation (PSO) vices sector. Lawyers are a classic professional type; drawing on a
in order to better understand any distinctive challenges associ- common body of regulated knowledge and standards (in this case
ated with professional service operations management (PSOM). by the UK Law Society). Moreover, as highlighted above, legal ser-
Previous OM research has defined the PSO as a generic service vices in the UK (and most advanced economies) face a series of
type with high levels of customer contact/service customization regulatory and competitive challenges that have led many to recon-
and fluid/flexible processes with low capital/high labor intensity sider the nature of their operations management (e.g. Suskind,
(Wemmerlov, 1990; Silvestro et al., 1992; Schmenner, 1986, 2004). 2010). The Legal Partnership (LP) case study, a mid-sized firm with
Similarly, as professional services are generally understood to be 342 employees, 42 partners and 17 distinct and largely autonomous
different so PSOM is understood to require a different approach. service practices, provided the specific empirical grounding for the
work. Although in many ways a typical law firm, the particular
characteristics of the LP ‘story’ offered a revelatory case study (Yin,
2008) of the (changing) composition of a PSO and the tensions
∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 225 386536.
inherent in the process of becoming more efficient and effective
E-mail addresses: m.a.lewis@bath.ac.uk (M.A. Lewis), Andrew.brown@wbs.ac.uk
(A.D. Brown). (i.e. PSOM). Detailed analysis of the operational ‘building blocks’
1
Tel.: +44 2476 524656; fax +44 2476 524656. of the PSO (its customer interaction/customization, processes and

0272-6963/$ – see front matter © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jom.2011.04.002

approaches. 2. Fitzsimmons. 331) for example and correspondingly limited role for external investors. Abbott (1988. 2. 1992. which illustrate commonality edge monopolies’ (i.g. All expert or knowledge intensive workers ‘locate’ their tions (Wemmerlov. Professionals and professional organizations The PSO is well represented in a range of generic SOM classifica. Silvestro et al. pp. Deploying a medical more contingent perspective on professional–client exchange and metaphor..e. PSO processes are generally cesses were not necessarily slow and highly variable (and where understood to be more labor intensive and largely independent of these characteristics did appear to hold.2 Of course. A unless you gain entry – passing exams. for the adoption of alternative organisational structures. 670).1. they minimize the distinctive nature of ‘professional’ country A’s legal system) exclude nonprofessionals and are central employees (Goodale et al. 1990). Processes with numerous examples of professionals deliberately distancing Regardless of whether it is cause and/or consequence of high themselves from their clients. In sum. and a relatively slow “throughput time” (Schmenner. elements provided a persuasive example (Siggelkow. 326) expert service type for example is one has advanced degrees but where nonhuman capital. Defining professional service operations management tomer input variability is more challenging (Schmenner. Where the characteristics described above hold.2. in appropriate ‘professional’ behavior. Drawing on the professional service firm (PSF) literature. Others. – to For instance. but also reduce the need for. These external ‘controls’ can particular Von Nordenflycht’s (2010) recent review of the field. is also critical” (von Nordenflycht. have emphasized the relative ‘activity’ of the interaction (e. The part- cient condition to define a production process as a service process”. inference is the reflective process that profes- 2. 1990. a large. 49).e. Similarly. physical cost (e. Lewis. internal service ceptualization. 40–49) explained professional ser- articulating specific OM trade-off’s associated with professionals vice interactions as a process of diagnosis. junior lawyers) and/or differently (less) qualified (e.b. Professionals also adhere structures that are commonly adopted to co-ordinate their activi. p.1. Diagnosis takes information in. 2008. individual professional significant amounts of capital – be it inventory.D. 1982.. (2) fluid/flexible processes with low capital and high labor its content and application (von Nordenflycht. what makes 2004) with the interaction between two defining characteristics to professional employees different is that this body of knowledge the fore: (1) high levels of customer contact/service customization is externally (but non-governmentally) regulated and controlled in and. Sampson and Froehle (2006. The infrastructure. 2010). Kellogg 2 n.2.1. inference and treatment. categorized both the interactive medium (i. Wemmerlov implication for instance is that the PSO typically focuses less on (1990) for instance.A. treatment brings instructions back out but critically. act to minimize the influence of managers in a PSO (Harvey.1. 2008. it is widely accepted that this type of operation has the ‘most’ customer interaction and/or cus- tomization (e. These ‘knowl- intensity.. 2004). This structure allowed for a set individual (and/or team) judgement have a central role in service of specific interview questions to be formulated and provided a delivery contribute to a high degree of service process “variation” structure for analysis and discussion of the findings. supporting facility. have limitations when it comes to specific types. Haywood-Farmer and Nollet. . 2000). specialized building. 1992. Defining the professional service operation (PSO) 2. the interaction between high A review of the literature was used to create an initial concep- levels of customer interaction/customization and situations where tualization of the PSO and PSOM.2 M. It is also important to note that although the high labor costs are 2. service operations. 1990) these factors were included as the third element of the initial con. The combined logic.1. explicit and implicit services: Fitzsimmons and answering the research questions. leveraged work management where greater use is made of lower or no interactions) and its object (e. goods. 1986) and reduces the opportunity to deploy standardization and automation. paralegal) employees (Maister. 1992. Customers play a critical definitional role in most discussions of 2000. Brown / Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11 employee behavior) and managerial attempts to influence these produce and deliver” the service package (i. Schmenner. nership structure in particular (i. p. noting that it is not the phys. Customers and customization clearly problematic – especially from an OM perspective (Verma. Indeed each of the defining and Vargas. equipment and/or inputs played at least as significant a role as customer inputs). The exact degree and nature of the customer input context for deploying OM tools and techniques. you cannot practice as a lawyer in country across all services. 2008. 2006). and associated costs of. 2010). 669) and the organisational in the maintenance of high labor costs. 2004). process standardization and automation and more on a form of physical presence. ical presence or otherwise of the client that influences variability 1985). 14) – the relatively low capital intensity of most PSOs. Inevitably. judgements within a particular knowledge system. The results suggest that (in legal services) the extent of client interaction and service package customization is highly variable – 2. they suggest explains how and why high customer contact (front-office) and low that the PSO represents a “distinct environment for managing oper- contact (back-office) services are routinely ‘de-coupled’ (Metters ations” (Goodale et al. Nie and Kellogg (1999. 349) found that customer influ. 2004). apprenticeship. (Froehle and Roth. etc.. quality monitoring (Goodale et al.g. 670). Silvestro et al. p. p.3. number of senior employees) helps resolve many of the traditional ence is “the most important characteristic in affecting OM strategies ‘managing professional’ problems but represents a very different and decisions”.. p. Schmenner. characteristics suggests specific challenges for the nature of PSOM. where the firm is owned by a Similarly. p. 1986..e. and partnership structures. information. the majority of LP pro- levels of customer input variation. does allow argue that the “presence of customer inputs is a necessary and suffi. that control with high levels of cus. there are operations like hospitals “where a large fraction of the workforce and Nie’s (1995.g. A. 2007) for facilitating goods. Mersha. to explicit external codes of ethics and implicit norms that guide ties. such as medical equipment and where “the service provider and customer work together to define. p. With specific reference to the PSO. 1996). indirect technology-mediated communication.g.g. Conceptual framework sional staff engage in “when the connection between diagnosis and treatment is obscure” (p.e. labor intensity in a PSO is not simply a study also highlighted distinctive aspects of PSOM by suggesting a matter of the relative number of employees. One significant has been the subject of debate and classification. self: Lovelock.

litigation. LP had 17 discrete concerns over generalizability but three factors meant that single ‘service lines’ (e.. corporate law. An Clients (and managers: Patterson. Several sources of evidence McCutcheon and Meredith. At the time of the study. Two new ‘volume’ service offerings had also been launched.. junior lawyers – working towards part- tends to measure time inputs to a project rather than outcomes.b. planning and control in a PSO partners. advice responsible for the failed negotiation?).2. with complex assignments often taking place over an Despite this ambition to be more business-like. Managing customers and customization the nature of their operations management (e. 1989. By 2009.1. tions following the themes of the initial conceptualization (i. 175). tional service lines was complemented by a number of regional and national acquisitions. 2008) were used including documentation from interviews by the rich data associated with an in-depth case study. 2009). 329) PSOM is about the research questions. billing rates. sites. administrators.) and the overall leverage ratio. attractive offices and meeting rooms may provide suasive example (albeit not quite a ‘talking pig’: Siggelkow. 2007) and an ‘open but not empty mind’. however.. 2006. In other words. the internal organ- extended timeframe with uncertain and highly variable completion isational structure remained typical for a legal partnership: equity times (Sasser et al. a range of semi-structured ques- regulated (in this case by the UK Law Society) knowledge and stan.. i. outputs from participant workshops. the changing composition of a PSO ‘cat herding’ problem (Løwendahl. “subtle influences” (Goodale et al. products and ‘routines’ increases employee than 20 years ago with the merger of two ‘traditional’ legal prac- bargaining power (“the assets go down the elevator each night and tices.2. Thus although in many ways a typical law firm the particular Managing professionals is often presented as a version of the characteristics of the LP ‘story’.g. 2010. the researchers were able to bring to the mechanisms not directly related to the core ‘explicit’ service). processes. case study a version of what Siggelkow (2007. drawing on a common body of recorded and transcribed. in-depth study of a single setting was also important in allowing the cult to evaluate professional service quality (e. with 49 partners and a turnover of approximately £27 mil- 2010). nership – and unqualified trainees undergoing on-the-job training. Data collection understanding and theory enhancement (Karwan and Markland. Lawyers are tion. with the creation of numerous addi- and evaluate.e. was the lawyer’s researchers to become familiar with the details of the profession.g. was helped (Yin. p. provided an exemplary setting for answering may not be effective” (Kellogg and Nie. 2002). One consequence Neither was legally qualified but both had prior research experience of “opaque quality” (von Nordenflycht. by controlling access to partnership status. Managing professionals and professional organizations taries. Managing processes precedent management systems had been introduced and the firm Limited repetitive learning opportunities. Lewis. First. . employment case research was deemed particularly appropriate for this study.g.K. Over the last 10 years facilitate the customer influence” (Kellogg and Nie.g.g. creating incentives for senior employees to stay with an informal structure.2.2. and secre- 2. Computerised time recording and legal 2. lack of task standardi. to pace. p. field notes. A. Forty-two semi-structured interviews were clearly a ‘classic’ professional type. nudg- ing. 1978). Over the last 10 years competitive rituals (e. LP had been focused on trans- 3. p. Brown / Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11 3 2.77:1. etc. professionals and and competitive challenges3 leading nearly all firms to reconsider not yet been implemented but is widely known as Tesco Law after the supermarket 3 To increase competition the U. as something that clients can observe Substantial organic growth. The case study the mobility and transferability of employee skills and the lack of effective mechanisms for embedding professional judgement in Law partnership (LP) is a British legal partnership formed more operating equipment. The partnership structure can be very advantageous in such lion. Equally. 21) described as For example. legal services in the UK faced a series of regulatory customer interaction/customization. 2006). 2000) can find it very diffi.3. it employed 342 people on 5 separate the firm can’t control whether they come back”: von Nordenflycht. creating highly emphasis on managerial skills or productivity. The first This paper analyses data from an in-depth single-case study (designated as service G in the paper) was a (non-contested) debt at LP. a key aim was to explore the nature of PSOM within and documents from the organization (e. probing the boundaries of a phenomenon and The empirical data were gathered at multiple points in time and integrating information from multiple sources (Eisenhardt. supporting facilities signal appropriate quality. Stuart et al. dards.). paralegals. p. 2000. data on staff utiliza- a specific organisational and institutional context. Research method forming their operations and management of those operations. under the direction of a new Managing Partner and the influence of client/market pressures. Moreover. 670) or “guiding. p.e. salaried partners. M. no clear strategic priorities and little and. 3. For example. together with support staff. As a result. Such a process. was 4. and meetings. had developed a range of higher volume legal offerings incorpo- sation and reliance on professional judgement makes work difficult rating digital document processing and call centre technologies.1. employee appearance and behavior are part of the implicit service Third.8:1 to 1.. p. the specific LP case was selected because it offered a per- offering.4 Table 1 provides a there is extant theory.4:1. the UK Legal Services Act (2007) has In 2009 the UK range was from 11. 1995. Suskind. 2010). For many years it had been run “rather like a club” (Chairman) circumstances. Tax. 1993.D. trusts and wills. ‘long hours’ work culture) for promotion.A. over a period of more than two years. it was necessary to undertake summary of the staff across each service line. chain who could begin to offer legal services). As a result. and persuading” (Malhotra et al. 2007. 161) is that PSOs of legal services and had read extensively in the socio-legal studies signal quality through all aspects of their service package (i. 328) but significant effort had been focused on making LP ‘more corporate’. organisational reputation (Greenwood. p. both confirmatory. and exploratory research seeking to develop novel insight. etc. Selecting a single case does not recovery service for corporate customers and the second a ‘fast- provide the confidence of a large n sample and inevitably raises track’ real estate service (service O). literature. although professional services are under-researched in OM partner lawyers to equity partners. the number of non- First. Second. p.e. 1995. government changed the law to remove organi.2. 2008. it is also very important that. 3. the “flexibility to adapt to individual customer’s varying needs and 20) of the challenges associated with PSOM. albeit without formal hypotheses (Smith et al. a British legal partnership. 68) and OM scholars and the tensions inherent in the process of becoming more effi- have similarly concluded that since “standard operating procedures cient and effective. 4 zational constraints in the legal profession (n.

The software contributed to the process by produc- 4. 2006).5 2 4 6 – L In order to produce a contextually detailed account of the case study.420 words was made up of 7526 different words. Coding maps were used to sup- port the process of creating meta codes (i. terms of generalization.41 viewed.5 1 2 6 1 10 8 P of sampling. 18 months ago. and so on. processes. A 1 2 2 1 2 8 Other lawyer/equity partner 5 4.e.e. long serving salaried and equity partners. IS). 0. emails. and N 1 1 1 2 1 6 4 2 documentation including Internet pages.66 models and then subsequently in a more open fashion based on the 1 2 2 5 4 I researchers reading of the data. but can be seen as steps towards gener- alization and in this case testing the applicability of a framework 1.77 4. Finance.3. initially based on the definitional 0. Customers and customization At an aggregate level.1. Finally. 1 2 2 3 2 10 7 cycling back and forth between the primary and secondary data and the literature. allowing for code searches against different text markers (e. I need a fixed cost and Table 1 I’m only going to move from that fixed cost if you can demon- a strate objectively that the assumptions you’ve based it on really .5 2 2 7 46 10 2 69 G ing word.5 and refinement/revision) and exploration of key interactions (i. The process began with 6 senior personnel who were asked to nominate others. ‘part- 3. newspaper reports and 1. the single case study alone is not enough B 1 1 – – for a generalizable theory.66 supported by the qualitative data analysis tool. All grades and types of staff were inter- 4. As 1.5 33.A. text where more than one code was allocated) counts. professionals). 2.25 2.tamsys. per- formance data. HR.e.25 an illustration of the initial analytical process.e. Consultants processes.33 marketing brochures supplemented these data.g. one client in ten Non-legal Full legal would say “well I’m not happy with that.66 Q designated meeting rooms the interviews varied in length from 30 1 2 2 5 4 to 90 min. Conducted in employees’ offices and in the firm’s 0.net/) with broadly similar functionality to QSR NVivo (Weinstein. customers. permitting meta-code groups to be created. Findings Paralegal/legal secretary The case data will be presented using the ex-ante definitional All staff/all partner themes: the nature of the PSO (i.sourceforge.33 3. observations of employees at work.g. using a snowball method 3. pro- Partner (equity) Partner (other) fessionals) and the nature of PSOM (i. Brown / Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11 structures) was employed. Lewis. the data were carefully analysed in a multi-stage process. The results were presented in order to give an opportunity to com- C 2 2 – – ment on (but not veto) key observations and initial conclusions. to support staff in HRM and Marketing and secretaries. Second.2 3 2 5 3 5 3 21 ner’ versus ‘para-legal’ responses) and producing software) graphs F summarizing code patterns. the authors participated in two partner con- ferences. the total interview 1 3 2 1 2 9 6 J data set of 267. market/client pressure had had a profound Intermediate legal impact on LP: Leverage ratio Qualifications “I would say that a year ago. a large number of informal conversations.D.4 M. To further improve the reliability and validity of the results the D 1 4 5 – 4 second partner conference was used to present key case findings. In the first a series of workshops and discussions were 1 1 4 54 9 1 70 5 34 used to generate a picture of the processes and service package O elements.e. In Distribution of service delivery employeesa across 17 discrete service lines. A. via code aggregation Excluding employees in general administration and other support roles (e. The analysis then entered a more iterative stage involving the creation of a number of meta-code sets. Qualifying Associate Solicitor Total Role 4. TAMS (Text Analysis K 1 2 2 5 4 Mark-up System) Analyzer (www. The next stage was to code the data. Data analysis 0. 2 2 3 2 9 E overlapping codes/code sets and weak/strong co-coding). etc. 1. from the Chairman and Managing Partner through Team Total 18 28 20 38 104 33 8 249 Leaders.6 in a specific context. M 3 2 2 1 8 – 3. code and co-code (i. managing customers.33 H analysis of co-coding and the addition/further refinement of codes. and recently appointed junior lawyers.

.). N ume service offerings discussed above. Physical possible co-located specialist view and secondary data analysis suggested a very mixed picture specific infrastructure for D’s of responsiveness and accommodation of client requirements. little or no change to generic Adaptive case management software Apart from option for visiting client supporting facilities (e. Lewis. etc. 325) suggested process for applying the SP/SP matrix was followed: the major service offerings were identified. reputation and thought leadership of related to specific lawyer experience results with partners at LP. there was evidence that the repu- tation/thought leadership of key individuals within the firm were Type LF service line reference being presented to some specific clients as a form of reassurance. comprising essential Traditional offerings (e. a competent web pres- G. the UK’s common law structure. largely informational) pro- Limited/generic Limited/generic Limited/generic key individuals. As above.e. Satisfaction with service in of ownership by a ‘proper’ lawyer firm. clients/markets: Limited “You can’t spend hours and hours drafting from scratch a complex share purchase agreement which is bespoke for that transaction and is heavily engineered to make sure it covers experience (e.g. p.e. and others reflect commercial pressures imposed by customer. Estates. In order to explore the idea of customer interaction/customization secure storage space) Considerable/limited transactional work. Now I’d say 9 out of 10 clients are asking for fixed costs rates. ers emerged from discussions regarding the generic informational Considerable/limited Considerable/limited Considerable/limited asymmetry between client and professional – effectively restricting potential variety. I.A.e. J. Finally. outcome metrics. every base because frankly you just haven’t got the time to do Maritime law specialism. the inter- Supporting facilities. For example. with the exception of the vol- A.e.g. benefits or extrinsic features Explicit service design logic. smart waiting Broad + specific areas.g. Outcome metrics possible (i. Marine Law) Considerable/limited Considerable/limited Considerable/limited The implicit service offering was largely generic in that it was the general reputation of the firm and/or the specific reputation service features of individual lawyers (e. events).” (Partner. the supporting facilities were Volume specific broadly consistent. – even if these individuals would never be involved in that clients work. Debt Recovery). different) service package bundles (see Table 2). Corporate Finance) infrastructure and paralegal/assistant commercial team (H) with dedicated.if they come to see me for X.).). Q infrastructure for time recording and access to the firm database Specific Table 2 (i. document production.e. “I have seen this before”). immigration. customer. etc. There was also a common IS Litigation Specialist B. E P . Run from a ‘back-office’ site.” (Corporate Finance commercial. LP has 3 ‘appropriate’ offices (i. Some of these findings relate customer but specialism reduces customer but specialism reduce to aspects of the legal process (such as the externally regulated body of knowledge. settle. reinforced as result of sense of specific Sense of unique offering reinforced by part the result of sense of relationship other aspects of the service package).g.g. potential variety by the customer the level of customization that most (especially individual) clients Major service offerings at LP by service package customization (unique – considerable – limited – generic) profile. Psychological patterns with the 17 LP service lines combining into 5 (marginally (i. L. form of marketing. The primary customization locus for most of the service offer- ings was a combination of the explicit service provided by LP and the facilitating goods (i. Kellogg and Nie’s (1995. vided by the customer. K. TTW. child custody. market signalling. oth- bundles of information. win/lose.g. support. etc. service. The items provided on the customization scale because there were consistent data sug- Information inputs unique to each Information inputs unique to each Information inputs unique to each Client provides highly structured gesting a form of customization cap. M. lawyer with awareness of family Trust in service offering reinforced as result of sense of specific experience. Many clients with Specialist litigation team primarily supporting commercial Explicit services. Narrow problem space means Volume service offerings (Real Estate. M. against Trust in volume offering partially result experience. etc. no change As above plus occasional change to resources in place to offer service With respect to specific client interactions however. it was largely a etc. Observable benefits.). etc. D. F.D. charities). workflow systems) were adapted in line with the explicit services to accommodate specific client requirements. None of these service package elements were classified as unique Information inputs still unique to each Facilitating goods. they know what they want and are going to get!” (Specialist Solicitor. etc. it because you won’t be paid for that time. Having analysed the primary and secondary data relating to each of the 17 service lines (aggregated in TAMS via their distinct text markers) for judgements of relative customization (i. international probate. the customer: “. Generic Generic with the exception of the volume service offerings where the sup- porting facilities (e. corporate. After checking the initial (e. those inputs. .) with regional reputation + specific Small focused offerings in specific areas of law (e. private meeting rooms. off-site. Considerable can invoke. Benefits measured by process. offerings.e.g. The levels of customization exhibited by these two dimensions of the service package were complementary. law library. There was also evidence to suggest that the more specialist ser- vice offerings offered less customization – reflecting the narrower range of activities they were engaged in and more self-selection by extended firm/lawyers relationships. H. standard legal precedents). the process revealed some consistent Trust in service offering directly Trust in general service offering Implicit services. IPR. Partner) key individuals are ‘visible’ to potential clients. service package defined and then the level of customization deter- Limited Limited Limited Limited mined. Brown / Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11 5 have turned out to be incorrect”. their higher education) that featured in Considerable Considerable all customer interactions. family. in a more structured manner therefore. key elements of the As above. O ence. Where there was some evidence of lim- ited customization in the implicit service offering. A. C.

do higher lev- els of customization occur at the ‘front end’ of the process?) or relative capacity allocations (e. In J there was a clear distinction between certain professional tasks and others where greater standardization was possible.D.4. explicit in arguing that ‘being the best professional’ was their prin- rapid pro-forma projects and highly repeatable activities. argued that the apparent ‘cap’ on higher levels of customization reflected the informational asymmetry between client and profes.6 M. what percentage of time is spent on higher variability processes?). When discussing this pattern. from bottom right to top left). like client relationships. cipal concern: plement these data.5 33. Some (e.e. Volume Operation G) Comparing the process patterns with the leverage profiles (grouped by customization of service package) revealed no obvious patterns (Table 3). were used to decompose each service line into its constituent pro- there are some very good people.66 1. law to most members of LP.g. 75% of the firm had some form of external managerial controls emphasized inputs (time recording) and out.25 3. legal secretary and adjacent pro- puts (billable hours) rather than workflow.). It has already been noted how lawyer identity and that involved seemingly bespoke one off performances (such as client relationship were strongly co-coded in the data but more appearing for a client in a courtroom). At the same time the fessions: corporate finance. on a 1–10 scale. the totality of evidence indicated a greater diversity. Even in those legal service processes was also mixed. the participants were Interestingly.6 3. the most recent organisational struc- service line A was analysed as comprising 3 distinct ‘processes’ (A1.25 and 2 process types. These categorisations were then combined and reviewed incorporating several service offerings) because of the limited num- by the whole partnership as a mechanism for confirming relative ber who were as interested in ‘managing’ as they were in being positioning. 1. P) provided a single rating but when a range was generated. as further evidence of the centrality of practicing asked to identify sub-components with stable ratings: for example. Equally striking and then practising law). Interestingly however. Brown / Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11 external factors. A. Few of the service Although less than half (42%) of LP employees were fully lines had any formal process maps (only the volume offerings) and qualified lawyers.66 0. Issuing a claim form and getting a judgement is not difficult so what’s difficult? What’s difficult is doing it at a price” (Partner. A3). Professionals and professional organization high variability/slow throughput processes predominated in LP.25 0. Processes short-cycle tasks being undertaken by senior lawyers). accreditation (including paralegal.66 1. C. notions of professional identity were also was the absence of ratings at the higher end of the scales (especially strongly connected to core PSOM issues.3. ture had resulted in the creation of 6 management teams (each A2.2 2. there is no question about that.A.5 1.33 0. in terms of relative throughput want is good law” (Litigation Partner 3) time and degree of variation. N. L. O. To sup. including the ‘common law’ basis of the UK legal system. and there is a very strong belief cess parts (see Fig. E had the marginally less customized offering and yet they adopted the most flexible Fig. the pattern of these process classifications was very important to most of the interviewees (e. most had com- suggested confirmatory evidence of a general positioning along the mitted their higher education and working lives to qualifying for efficient diagonal (i.g. structure: a kind of job-shop model held (i.2. the extent to which the specifically there was the frequent suggestion that being respon- client influenced the nature of the process was limited by a range of sive and flexible to client requirements was a large part of what Table 3 Process count (P) and staff/partner leverage ratio (L). workshops held at a 2-day partner conference “the firm is technically excellent. Many of the interviewees were interviews revealed ample evidence of standardised techniques. we’re doing something which any solicitor should be able to do. Decomposing and categorising LP processes.g. etc. both with leverage ratios of 1. B. 1). some participants task complexity and individual productivity. Offerings E and J for instance were similar sized services. all people rate their offering.33 2 – – 4 0. Managing customers and customization sional – effectively restricting the design input that most clients can make – and the ‘custodian/interpreter of a body of knowledge’ The evidence regarding the management of client interaction role of legal professionals. 4. process variation). K. everyone potentially completed all tasks with numerous basic administration and very 4. Lewis. Partners from each service line were asked to that if you’re technically excellent that’s what it takes. Although some data suggested that (as predicted by theory) 4. the anal- ysis did provoke extended debate about how much of what LP professionals did was not particularly unique work: Don’t forget. Broad + specific Specific Sp Litig Volume A F H I J K L M N B C D Q E P G O Processes 3 2 3 2 2 1 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 2 1 3 3 Leverage 1. lawyers.e.5 34 . Beyond the self-evident finding that being a professional At an aggregate level.g. There was no formal mapping of workflows and therefore no direct classification of precedence relationships (e.

Fig. . More generally however there was relatively and a CRM system to support client interactions and marketing. A. M. would I offerings. Brown / Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11 7 it meant to be a professional (e. God forbid. Contradicting this perspective.5. I don’t” (Associate Solicitor. The software reviewing the annualised percentage utilization for 3 different ser- allowed them to open.it will make an enormous dif. we deal with people and individuals and they in the way that we want. Each fee earner was supposed to achieve 1300 ‘billable’ (chargeable) “XX is the firm wide package. . some service lines (and investment in three distinct types of information processing tech. there had still been significant In seeking to control this variability. As an. automation was integral to the volume offerings (G and O) (Director of Marketing) but. hours per annum – this ‘number’ was derived in part from an ference for fixed fee work [where] you do not want to reinvent annual benchmark study conducted by an international accoun- tancy firm. etc. etc. its position in various legal rankings. . 120 illustration there was the suggestion that many lawyers felt uncom. sales and marketing capability.1. Lewis. the aim is to get to be reproduced and used by others. the individual by professional performance. The numbers reflected a range of factors (including in 76-min blocks accompanied by a verbal description of each separate job. you know we precedents to be utilised in the most efficient manner” (Corpo- say . The firm was then able to derive indicative utilization figures as a basis for comparing individual and service line per- 5 An industry standard time recording system set up to log 7 h of work each day formance. did not then connect this to customization for “you cannot do the job in an efficient manner unless you distil specific client requirements: down the knowledge that lawyers have in a form which is able “we offer an ongoing training programme . is knocked down by a bus.A.traditionally lawyers do 80 not like billing clients they don’t like talking about money”: Direc. and I suspect the type of people who become lawyers. albeit indirect.g. the firm’s reputation – based in part on its the same time it was noted by many that much of this was driven longevity. and this could not be sent until seventy units had been recorded on to the system. files. SL 1 60 tor of HRM) precisely because arguing over money did not fit with SL2 their ‘caring’ model of a professional client relationship: 40 SL3 20 [W]hy do people become nurses. Corporate Team) Although. . and the answer is no. . . . two or three of the partners of the corporate team. time recording software5 correct format. “if you wanted a share purchase agreement and you asked. [means] that client service and care is the holy grail. Similarly they had an impressive headquarters building know how my nearest and dearest colleagues routinely run their and had recently acquired what some partners described as a ‘hunt. etc. Workflow and case management systems clients – so that critical information was presented on time. – needs: was widely discussed as playing a significant part in providing prospective and current clients with confidence in their service “if one of us is. . in the (which draw on a precedent library). outside the volume operations. Managing processes probably get three different versions of an agreement” (Partner. “I’ll always answer the phone 140 to client x – they have my home number”). . 2.) but end of a working day individuals posted a report of their activities.” (Specialist Practice Associate) are not bits on a conveyor belt” (Equity Partner TTW) The role of quality signalling through specific marketing of More generally. At the specific market conditions. record their work and then close a series of clock folders as vice lines provides another indication of process variability (see they began and finished different activities. At 4. 2). the actual adoption of these Because of this variability the key planning and control device technologies varied substantially across the service lines: was the measurement and management of time inputs. certain peo- ple don’t. this is what you need to give us and we give them an rate Partner) instruction sheet and checklist so there isn’t a lot of time wasted “there are things that we can standardize but we deal with filtering through piles of paperwork. . limited specific focus on operations management: As observed in the leverage (Table 1) and customization (Table 2) “we specialise a fair amount in service lines but not in process” data. despite the availability of and potential for automation across all work and supporting processes. we get it presented to us human beings. . Monthly billable hour utilization figures (3 service lines).D. 100 % Ulizaon fortable dealing with invoicing issues (“. . More generally. you’d 4. say. certain people do. TTW) The benefit of this kind of process automation was clear to some Even those lawyers who subscribed strongly to a professional but questioned by others: customer care ethos. Banking ing lodge’ in an expensive office block in the heart of the City of and Finance Team) London. etc. Month ner 2) Fig. 0 j f m a m j j a s o n d coupled with the nature of the training they receive . there was a implicit aspects of the service package was discussed in Section widespread acceptance that legal processes are highly variable. as a partnership organization LP had restricted possi- bilities for accessing external capital. . there was also a distinct group of lawyers (many with ‘unique’ skills or reputation. rather than necessarily by customer reputation and educational background of key individuals. some individual lawyers) provided a structured interface for their nology in the last 5 years. which essentially means clients working smarter so that there is less input on our part precedents and means robust and appropriate IT to enable those in sorting out a lot of the crap that’s given to us.” (Corporate Part.) who pre- sented themselves as being deliberately distant from their clients: the wheel every time but I’m up against a wall of partners who “I’ve got one or two clients here who I don’t particularly care for think you can’t manage it because every case is different when and every so often I sack them or tell them to go elsewhere!” in reality they’re different sometimes” (Partner Property Team) (Partner and Head.

There was an acceptance that ‘all firms “not all services rendered by ‘professionals’ necessarily involve a do write-offs’ (Head. Even with the introduction of an apparently rigid system. some will bill terms of chargeable hours capacity” (Strategy Director) that as a 6-minute unit. the patient” for fear that it would influence her judgement. fore senior managers consistently emphasized the importance of compared herself to a surgeon who must not get “too close to conscientiously keeping accurate time records. etc. and do an e-mail out saying ‘OK’. . some will bill that as a relatively low but most people are working 50% or below in 6-minute unit. the regulated and often routine nature of because if you don’t put it down I can’t make the assessment as many areas of the legal ‘body of knowledge’ (e.A. Corporate. to with established equity partners. Managing professionals intuitions’ regarding what a job was worth.” (Head. . y associates. . like most partners do say over. As distinctive nature of PSOM? a result this had become a focal issue for senior managers (sup- ported by the partnership board who could directly connect this 5.g.I’ve banged on about for a long time – if it takes you 5 hours tomer to “specify where the service is to be performed. the Chairman talked Arguably the principal managerial influencing mechanism about the Managing Partner having “quite a difficult team to man. broadly agreed with the ‘cat herding’ notion. #1. Commercial & Employment) and high degree of customer influence” (p. reflect the generic characterizations of the hours target. the specialist offerings were more likely to be approached by to junior staff members. Additionally. be done and how it is to be done” (Kellogg and Nie. such as the accuracy of the initial estimates. involved aligning the partnership’s incentive structures. very lawyerly”. . 1995. Several interviewees highlighted achieve greater leverage of expensive staff: how certain senior and older colleagues were deliberately resis- tant to requirements for process discipline. how peers and superi- ors would regard the bill. do the characteristics of a specific professional service opera- ing more formal systems and procedures. not 18 units” (Partner under-utilization. Despite the 1300 ‘billable’ tion. . Of specific concern were the twin processes of recording time and then the process of ‘writing-off’ potential 5. in turn. a small “. interesting illustration of the challenges associated with introduc. Lewis. Limits on customization fee income at various points between the collection of time data In line with the Kellogg and Nie (1995) suggestion that and the receipt of payment.8 M. . etc. clearly worked in a market with significant admitted to making mistakes and making things up. Of course. if at all. a lot of them are . Tax. More- “We always say. . contingent than the generic PSO models allow.1.1.1. there was considerable variation between individuals relative scarcity of this capability) created the opportunity for some and between teams. . prospects” (Associate Solicitor #1). Partner) LP Site 2) The billing process also incorporated a range of local customiza- tions. establishing how much had been lawyers to treat customers with a degree of distance.6. for example. you’ve got to put it down cific service. standard approaches to debt recovery. Trusts and Wills) On the client side. A. The degree of ‘reactivity’ appeared more at LP was generally perceived by the management as problematic. What are the characteristics of a (legal services) PSO? to earning potential). . professional 4. how. Brown / Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11 The range of utilization figures also illustrates a significant chal. do these characteristics shape the age number of hours billed per lawyer had been 960 and 990. it doesn’t matter if you don’t think specialist clients who. record the 5 hours.we were relying on these very large deals coming in and it’s number of generally senior individuals continued to fill in hand- interesting of course that the good thing about that is you had a written time sheets and then transferred this information on to the really good sound base of very experienced lawyers that people electronic system. First.). Individually. p. there was plentiful evidence of inexperienced . were looking for a more or less spe- the amount of time is recoverable. one specialist marine lawyer with an international reputation. For example. and guesses about what the client would The LP hierarchy – and many of the lawyers themselves – pay. This is only an exaggerated counted as 6 min worth of work. version of the challenge faced by nearly all the service lines as they “I might have 3 calls in 6 minutes and the clock will be running sought to cope with periods of (occasionally significant) over and and they will be charged 1 unit for 3 calls. As an illustra- written off was dependent on measuring time inputs and there. PSO type? Second. and you’ve spent 2 seconds receiving and transmitting . were happy to instruct and they knew the work was being done by senior lawyers but what we started to do was to tack on more 5. . what is to to write a one paragraph letter. seen not to follow process effectively “will impact your promotional ket/client alignment by creating fee earning service line units and. Most offering). to whether to bill them” (Partner#2. 326) there was evidence ‘you’ll never bill for 100% because life “aint like that” (Partner.D. Discussion junior lawyers and we were able to leverage work and take work at a lower level” (Chairman) In this section reflections on extant conceptual insights are com- The firm’s attempts to reach its billable hour targets provided an bined with case findings to answer the guiding research questions. Corporate Team) “We have a number of people whose . . capacity utilization is “If an e-mail comes in that says ‘yes’. planning procedures. a pro- While estimates of the recovery rate across the business varied from fessional’s specialism and/or expertise and/or experience (and the 75% to 80%.) further constrained the influence of the cus- “. and I mantra-like. the tify their existence that’s a horrible position to be in” (Managing client gets a bill for whatever that equates to – £40” (Partner #1. and to contin- peaks and troughs and yet they operated using a fixed capacity uously making individual judgement calls about what reasonably model (x partners. tion. a law partnership. Which means if you’re on £200 an hour “if they haven’t got enough work to do and they’re trying to jus. . Real of both significant and limited levels of customer interac- Estate) but the extent to which time spent on jobs was written off tion/customization. Over a 5-year approach was relatively successful with junior staff. but proved much less effective by increasing the ratio of junior professionals in each unit. anal- lenge with resource allocation. where being period LP had made significant changes to both increase mar. standard contracts. in the 2 annual periods covered by the study the aver. Such an age because . SL3 (a corporate finance service ysis revealed considerable scope for individual adaptation. Corporate Team) precedent ‘libraries’. 331).

267). 325) noted that one firm could individual agency associated with professional services could easily hold several positions on their SP/SP matrix it is acknowledged create the gradient whereby the abstract or ideal process is very dif- that service firms will often have a mix of different service oper. etc. Research suggests that ser- automated and highly leveraged service systems. p.A.2). the approach sourcing/offshoring (Apte and Mason.g. In other words managers need ations types within their overall organization (Schmenner. arguably. 2008) and the increased functionality of enter- perspective (e. PSOM (e. to support the validity of this model if disaggregated into a series of fractals – each There is evidence in the LP story to support this approach. The tion and corresponding process variability is likely to emerge from partnership offers a robust platform for co-ordinating professionals the individual professional judgements.1. use more embedded knowledge. relative prestige. suggesting. Professional identity is thus typically bound Harvey’s (1990) argument that the relative power ‘gradient’ up in technical aspects of the work and framed by ethical and other between professionals. etc.1. regulation. preferences and experi- precisely because it creates significant individual financial incen- ence: tives while providing an effective buffer for the productive core against the forces that have driven most for-profit firms to become “it’s a rotten analogy but it’s the difference between a bespoke more productive (e. Boone and Ganeshan. more surprisingly. Similarly. created the condi- 5. rather than customer interac. seemed to have a significant influence on work and seems to confirm “there is much that operations manage- much of the observed process variability and slow throughput ment can do to enhance effectiveness and efficiency in professional speed. Ellram et al. Contingent client relationships of qualification for a career like law requires extended focus on the The professional–client exchange findings resonate with body of knowledge. and type of professional. consider that for all the apparent una- could balance some knowledge asymmetries – although there was nimity about time recording and billing. To illustrate this notion of preference. literature offers a structure for clarifying this divergence. and therefore be easier to control. court availability. .D.g. (Schmenner. 2008. and those types questions. the evidence regard- Moreover professional preference. 2003). 1995. vice workers introduce this divergence in settings where there are extremely detailed descriptions of the procedure to be followed 5. 2008. leverage delivery. In these cases any customiza- ture and associated financial incentives for individual lawyers.g.2. Professional identity and organisational structures tions for accelerated PSO transitions towards ‘swift. 2003. so if I go out to The LP findings for example suggest the basis for a more contingent lunch with a colleague I’m 95% sure the inclination will be to understanding of client–professional interaction (in a legal services discuss work issues not time recording issues and this. The competitive nature 5. p. Pentland. reasonably profitable so why change” (Private Client Partner) The characteristics observed in LP suggest two additional A key explanation for this inertia in the face of market pressure dimensions for a distinctive model of PSOM. A. Brown / Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11 9 and/or unprepared and/or emotional. The routines needed to proceed. 267). fast food restaurants: Victor et al. work practices. that the the firms’ professionals but the net result may be very little change majority of the processes identified were characterized as (rela. matters in understanding work issues and technical issues more than they’ll discuss orga.. M. even flow’6 Despite evidence of a profession facing transformational chal. level of interest) regarding the matter. that and setting) as summarized in Table 4. they took and the timing of particular work based on their personal Metters and Verma. Treat- Only the volume services incorporated explicit processes for ing routines as an analogue for processes. etc. the other” (Solicitor) On the left of the table there may still be significant amounts of customization but it will be PSO (or professional) led and may not Another related factor lies in the nature of the partnership struc- reflect explicit client requirements. 2000) and therefore the Just as Kellogg and Nie (1995. Set against this need for subtle influencing. descriptions of how it still evidence of corporate clients not having the basic information actually worked were incredibly diverse (Section 4.). there was evidence of services” (Heineke. 2004). deploy fewer fully qualified “we’ve done the work the same way for a long time and it works staff.6). LP case provokes reflection on the limited amount of ‘judgement’ judicial rulings. p. 2001) have. Lewis. nizational issues. etc.1. repeating the overall pattern of the generic version.3. 1995. jolly well and the clients like it and they’re happy and we’re (Silvestro et al. in practice. 1 to Schmenner’s (2004) matrix appears less the what of managing operations (Heineke. despite apparently equivalent process characteristics. How different is professional service operations making the client see that it’s what they need” (Partner. more productive. legal professional in nearly every aspect of the service design and most of the actual workflow structures.2. reflecting both the entrepreneurial they always have in principle and in practice features (Feldman nature of the two lead partners and the requirements of more and Pentland. clients deferring to the sider how. suit from Saville row and a [mass market] suit like the one I’m wearing. extent of unionisation. Con. ferent from its actual performance.). need for external capital). Specifically. 1995. 1992). greater levels of out- lawyers adapting their availability for specific clients. managers and clients in a PSO provides standards that are enforced by a body external to the firm: important managerial insights and seem to confirm that the type “My experience so far is that lawyers on the whole will discuss of profession. Portfolio of process types (e. tively) standardised with (relatively) limited customer interaction. You get what you pay for but the important thing is 5. it has been argued that client service customization. 2004). to recognise that they can articulate the design logic (the in prin- The LP analysis confirmed the existence of a portfolio of process ciple process) and this may even appear to be widely accepted by types inside a single PSO.g. This ‘passivity’ was generally less evident with organisa. the LP case highlights that regardless of managerial intent nology in the LP volume offerings confirmed that ‘professional’ the PSO can still struggle to become more efficient and effective: processes can be designed or re-designed to be more capital inten- sive.2. were completely different across the various service tional clients – especially those with in-house legal counsel who lines (Section 4. TTW) management? PSOM is typically presented as being more about the how and 6 The similarity of the ‘diagonal’ in Fig. prise and knowledge management technologies (Stratman. ing the relative balance of standard/non-standard processes in the tion/customization or external constraints (e. ratios.. etc..g. The integration of professional skills and tech- lenges. and organisational opportunity can be found in the characteris- tics of the professional employee herself.

ceived lack of managerial ‘talent’ but. 2005. For instance. a theory. PSO–led interaction > < Client–led interaction Client scale and capabilities? Small. p. Although not endorsing the suggestion that scholars should firm does not need to make substantial investments in managing never “generalize the characteristics of services” (Edvardsson et al. .2.) to the more subtle structural signalling associated with mar- 6. 1250–1262. and aligning key individuals. ordinate work with others “involves a measure of power sharing” Drucker. legal aid) then potentially If client pays then PSO needs to maintain relationship to ensure less emphasis on service recipient flow of revenue from billing The right side of the table details those situations where more this respect. etc. partners and process/IT designers to develop shared specifications. redesign and exit/transfer of such ing a disruptive innovation logic and developing more productive processes. etc. U. the cessful mechanisms for coping with or modifying these trade-offs LP case suggests that there is significant potential for traditional OM but the LP case suggests two interesting options. Second.g. 670) but the definitional PSOM of these concerns (by creating incentives to stay with a single firm) challenge is not simply to nudge and influence culture but to try to and is highly effective in managing many ‘steady state’ PSOM chal. it effectively buffers the firm against need. 2008..). perhaps PSOM (with its need to co-ordinate and influ- traditional OM customization notions will come to the fore. Ganeshan. entirely dependent on Limited room for interpretation of legal precedent and/or process judgement Value to client of service? Qualifier for larger value exchange (e. Conclusions keting key professionals in what Maister (1993. T. the goals – the so-called ‘cat herding’ problem. Global disaggregation of information-intensive ser- encouraged (at least discussions of) far greater levels of cross-team vices.000 respectively in the two years of structures. with external agreement in the literature that professionals cannot be effectively and often competition minimizing allegiances. training. in professional service organizations. The findings from this research point to the importance of ing to make many substantive structural OM decisions – especially investigating specific professional contexts. 1999. behavioral standards fruitfully develop much more precise definitional model(s) of var- are encouraged by a broader professional ethos. 9–94. p. buying system (e. panel) and in-house legal expertise expertise Payment/incentive method? Hourly billing systems Setting fixed fee arrangements transfer (in theory) cost risks How routine is practice? No established precedents. etc.) will clearly enhance the validity the study).. In Management Review 41 (2 Winter).O. etc. unique skills/experience Lots of providers. California and thereby also increases her amenability to managerial control. A. countries. etc. The single case structure has obvious limitations The unique employee and organisational characteristics of the but the rich description of operations-related issues at a single pro- PSO create a set of intriguing trade-offs (or paradoxes?) for PSOM fessional service firm provided a robust platform for generalizing to decision-making. First.g.. The System of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. offerings away from the core services (in the LP case the vol- ume business was geographically and conceptually distant from References the rest of the firm). 2001. crucially. investigate the detailed design. 4–5) labelled ‘Grey Hair’ assignments. etc.g.b. Lewis. 485–495. Even within a single law firm although no explicit dress code was in place. it also Apte. especially by junior efficiency logic. the nature of client interaction was varied and contin- paralegals. Extending the range while the partnership remains profitable (n. pp. ‘interventions’ in legal service processes (e. At the same time.. 670). ad-hoc buying and no/limited legal Large. sizes.. Chicago. p. case confirms that the PSO is a “distinct environment for managing ture has proved to be an effective mechanism for resolving some operations” (Goodale et al. More specifically. service quality because this is enforced by a professional associa. pricing transparency. Mason. generalizability of any findings. In other words. small spend. the body of of contingency in any model of PSOM than that suggested by the knowledge. full equity partner and number of different PSOs (different professions. R. In the ence quasi-autonomous economic agents) could be reconceived as LP case these ranged from the specific co-design procedures evident analogous to supply chain management (with the building of social in the volume service lines (i. Management Science 41 (7). in creat.2. This suggests PSOM benefits sionals ‘giving up’ certain activities). One potential component of a from (a) identifying/developing/hiring professionals with interests more comprehensive PSOM research agenda therefore. Who pays (client or 3rd party)? If third party pay for service (e. make versus buy anal- ing the volume offerings. Consider why. M&A) Limited implications and liabilities Scarce offering (competition)? Specialists. ious professional service operations. enact mainstream OM options in a context where professional and lenges. 1995. etc. with organisational ‘managed’ in the same way as other employees. profes- create an entirely new service line. by employing professional staff. There is scope for substantial further research into suc. information transparency.D.000 and £320. Balancing these advantages (managing and managed) behaviors that there is a greater degree are the challenges of reduced influence over standards. Similarly. The partnership struc. the attempt to create 6 integrated work teams (above the 17 service lines) was driven by a per. A.M. Abbott.g.) always wore smart clothes (even at their ‘off-site’ gent on a range of factors.e. market making. formal meetings between clients. could be to (identities) beyond their core technical discipline and (b) follow.10 M. perhaps by accident. This confirmatory and exploratory study set out to investi- gate the definitional characteristics of the PSO and the distinctive 5.. For example it can help capacity and demand balancing organisational factors can act to undermine even the most robust by incentivizing flexible (long) working hours. were polite. University of Chicago Press. 115) what was observed suggests that OM scholars can tion (Goodale et al. staff. all the LP lawyers (and for instance. 1988.. work sharing. Journal of Operations Management 19. capital. 2008. The effect of information technology on learning PSOs suggested that the extent to which a professional has to co. Harvey’s (1992) discussion of power relationships in Boone. Knowledge-worker productivity: the biggest challenge. large spend. R.A. Professional and partnership trade-offs aspects of PSOM. organisational income was £293. it is clear from the observed partners meetings).. Brown / Journal of Operations Management 30 (2012) 1–11 Table 4 Characterising client–professional interaction. and..g. P. an individual ‘non-lawyerly’ lawyer took ysis leading to outsourcing) but that these opportunities need to be advantage of the flexibility afforded by his new partner status to understood in the context of significant inertial forces (e. Similarly.

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