Understanding Professional Service Delivery

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to apply concepts from organizational and social identity theories to theoretically consider different ways that professional service providers conceptualize their roles and deliver their knowledge. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is a conceptual discussion to advance the understanding of professional service delivery, within the realm of service-quality research. Findings: The field has yet to provide a clear understanding of what professional service delivery actually looks like. The paper offers propositions examining the process by which professionals identify with membership in their profession and firms that in turn, influence their expert-based self-concepts, the images they form of their clients as recipients of their knowledge, and ways they create the service exchange. The paper also considers the impact of professional and organizational identification on the types of clientele professionals may develop. Research limitations/implications: The paper adds depth to the understanding of the complex process of expert-based service delivery. The ideas presented in this paper have implications for research in service-quality, specifically in understanding how and why professionals approach their client-interactions. Practical implications: The ideas presented in this paper would be useful to professional service firms interested in understanding the role their firm’s identity plays in ways its professionals conduct their work and the types of clientele they wish to attract. Originality/value: The paper contributes to the service quality literature through conceptualizing professional service delivery. It represents a step in acknowledging the role of professional delivery in influencing service outcomes and in developing the theoretical rationale as to why different approaches exist.

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professional services; service delivery; doctors; lawyers; financial services


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Required Publisher Statement: © Emerald. DOI: 10.1108/17566691011057375. Final version published as: Walsh, K., & Gordon, J. R. (2010). Understanding professional service delivery. International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, 2(2), 217-238. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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