Coincident with the increasing importance of services as a primary component
of the economies in developed countries, a number of theoretically derived
service typologies have been developed, yet there has been virtually no empirical
validation of the proposed ideas. We conducted a survey of 273 managers in
four service industries (Fast Food, Auto Repair, Retail Sales, Legal Services) to
test how management challenges differ across different service industries. We
also empirically tested a widely accepted service typology developed by
Schmenner (1986) within the context of management challenges. Discriminant
analysis was utilized to test the degree to which companies can be classified into
groupings similar to the Schmenner's service process matrix according to empirical
data rather than anecdotal observations. Our findings indicate that
while the service process matrix can be partially validated using empirical data,
the distinctions between various industries are much ''fuzzier'' in practice.
Different service industries can be classified according to empirical data, but
misclassifications do occur. In particular, misclassifications are most prevalent
where two service industries share a common characteristic as described by the
service process matrix.
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