Case Study on Service-dominant Professional Identity
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Case Study on Service-dominant Professional Identity: An Organisational Socialisation Perspective
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to contribute to understanding of how a servicedominant professional identity can be established among the employees of an organisation that wishes to inculcate the tenets of service-dominant (S-D) logic. Design/methodology/approach: The paper reports a case study of a large Swedish publicsector organisation in which the transition to e-government provided an opportunity to inculcate a new service-based professional identity among employees. The main datacollection method is interviewing. Findings: The study identifies four characteristics of a service-dominant professional identity: (i) interaction; (ii) customer orientation; (iii) co-creation; and (iv) empowerment. The study finds that such an identity can be established through five socialisation processes: (i) collective socialisation; (ii) random socialisation; (iii) serial socialisation; (iv) investiture socialisation; and (v) divestiture socialisation. Research limitations/implications: As with all case-study research, the paper draws analytical generalisations but is unable to provide any statistical generalisations; further quantitative research is needed in this area. Moreover, the study takes a intra-firm perspective; future studies could approach the topic from a consumer perspective. Practical implications: Managers who wish to inculcate S-D logic in their organisations should focus on developing the interactive and co-creation skills of their employees, as well as empowering them and providing them with an enhanced understanding of customer orientation. Originality/value: The study is novel in several respects: (i) it provides a systematic empirical analysis of how S-D logic can be established in an organisation; (ii) the notion of a service-dominant professional identity is introduced; and (iii) the theory of organisational socialisation is applied to S-D logic research for the first time. Keywords: service-dominant logic, service-dominant professional identity, organisational socialisation, e-government, public administration, service research, Sweden Paper type: Research paper
The emergence of service-dominant logic (Vargo and Lusch, 2004) and its subsequent prominence in the marketing literature has led to a reorientation of marketing research (Lusch and Vargo 2006; Lusch et al., 2007; Vargo and Lusch, 2008a; 2008b; 2008c). The argument that has been put forward is that marketing research, practice and education is on the verge of a shift in perspective from a goods-dominant logic (G-D logic) to a S-D logic were "service provision rather than goods is fundamental to economic exchange" (Vargo and Lusch, 2004: 1). According to G-D logic, value is embedded in an organisation's offering of products; this perspective therefore holds that value is produced by organisations in relative isolation from their customers and that the fundamental organisational resources utilised in this process are 'operand' resources (such as the natural materials and machinery that it possesses). In contrast to the G-D logic framework, S-D logic holds that value is co-created with customers and realised in use; this framework therefore holds that the fundamental resources of organisations are 'operant' resources (such as the knowledge and skills of its people). Given that S-D logic emphasises the dynamic utilisation of operant resources—especially the role of employees' knowledge and skills in co-creating value with customers—it is perhaps surprising that research into S-D logic has thus far been largely conceptual in nature and that few empirical studies have examined the practical question of how S-D logic is actually established in an organisation. The present study is one of the few studies to have addressed this practical question. It does so by drawing on ideas derived from the realm of so-called 'organisational socialisation' (Ibarra, 1999; Van Maanen, 1975; Van Maanen and Schein, 1979). According to Hall (1987, p. 302): "Socialization refers to the process by which persons acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that make them more or less able members of their society". It would seem that 'organisational socialisation' is an appropriate theoretical perspective for analysing how S-D logic might be established in organisations since it can be utilized to study how operant resources, the employees in particular, acquire certain skills and knowledge. Moreover, given that the processes of organisational socialisation are said to provide employees with a so-called "professional identity", which has been defined as a "relatively stable and enduring constellation of attributes, beliefs, values, motives, and experience in terms of which people define themselves in a professional role" (Ibarra, 1999, pp 764-5), it is the contention of the present study that the inculcation of S-D logic in a given organisation can be analysed in terms of the establishment of what might be called a new 'service-dominant professional identity' among the employees of that organisation.
The present study therefore draws on the theory of 'organisational socialisation' in presenting a case study of the inculcation of S-D logic among the employees of a large Swedish public-sector organisation. In particular, the case study focuses on how the introduction of a new egovernment program at this organisation socialised the employees to adopt a new service- dominant professional identity. The study analyses both: (i) the content of this new service- dominant professional identity; and (ii) how it was actually established in practice. The remainder of this paper is organised as follows. Following this introduction, the relevant literature on S-D logic and organisational socialisation is reviewed. The subsequent section describes the methodology of the empirical study. This is followed by a presentation of the findings and an analysis of the content and establishment of a new service-dominant professional identity among employees. The paper then presents a discussion of the findings in the context of previous studies in this and related areas. The paper ends with a summary of the main conclusions, the managerial implications, the limitations of the present study, and suggestions for future research.
2. Literature review
2.1 S-D logic and 'value in use'
In accordance with the fundamental tenets of S-D logic noted in the introduction, Vargo and Lusch (2004) contended that an organisation can gain a competitive advantage by identifying and developing its fundamental operant resources - its knowledge and skills. In this regard, Lusch et al. (2007, p. 15) have asserted that the employees of an organisation represent "the primal source of innovation, organizational knowledge, and value". In a similar vein, Lusch et al. (2007, p. 15) argued that employees who are viewed and treated as valuable operant resources become "empowered in their role as value co-creators". The idea that the employees are the primary resource for the gaining of a competitive advantage is not completely novel; indeed, it could be argued that the whole field of service marketing and management has been built upon this idea (Shostack, 1977; Grönroos, 1978). However, the distinctive contribution of S-D logic to the central role of employees lies in the conceptualisation of 'value in use' (Vargo and Lusch 2004). As noted above, rather then positing value as embedded in the offering of a given product or service, S-D logic conceptualises value as being realised in use. This conceptualisation of value implies the co-creation of value through collaboration among a variety of actors—including the firm, its employees, its customers, and other members of a so-called 'value network' (Vargo and Lusch, 2004). Although the idea that customers coproduce services with employees has been noted in services research for some time (Grönroos, 1982), the overarching concept of 'value in use' is a novel and distinctive contribution
of S-D logic to the crucial role of employees in the creation of value and the attainment of competitive advantage.
2.2 Organisational socialisation
The term 'organisational socialisation' refers to the process by which the members of an organisation acquire the skills and knowledge that lead to the creation of a certain professional identity (Hall, 1987; Ibarra, 1999; Van Maanen, 1975; Van Maanen and Schein, 1979). In this regard, although Lusch et al. (2007) argued that management initiatives that are consistent with S- D logic inherently foster the adoption of desirable norms of relational behaviour among employees (such as trust, open communication, and innovative ways of providing service), it would seem that there has been no formal study of this presumed process whereby the tenets of S- D logic are apparently inculcated among the employees of an organisation. To ascertain how a service-dominant professional identity might be established among employees, the framework proposed in Van Maanen and Schein's (1979) seminal paper on organisational socialisation is potentially useful. Van Maanen and Schein (1979) identified six types of tactics for accomplishing organisational socialisation and forming a professional identity. According to the framework, socialisation processes can be:
• • • • • •
collective and/or individual; formal and/or informal; sequential and/or random; fixed and/or variable; serial and/or disjunctive; and characterised by investiture and/or characterised by divestiture.
With regard to the first of these, collective socialisation obviously refers to the socialisation of a whole group through exposure to certain shared experiences, whereas individual socialisation refers to the socialisation of a single person in isolation. In the second type of tactics, formal socialisation refers to set of experiences tailored explicitly through such institutions as academies, professional schools, internships, and so on. In contrast, informal socialisation tends to proceed through trial-and-error learning. With regard to the third type, sequential socialisation refers to a specific sequence of discrete and identifiable steps leading to the target role. If no such sequence of steps is in place, random socialisation is taking place. In the fourth type of tactics, variable socialisation implies that what applies to one individual might not be applicable to another; that is, there is variability with regard to
timeframes for promotions, placements in particular roles, and so on. In contrast, fixed socialisation processes have predetermined (and generally known) arrangements for the adoption of these roles within an organisation. With regard to the fifth type of tactics, serial socialisation implies that experienced members of the organisation are used as role models for people who are about to get similar kinds of positions in the organisation; in contrast, when no role models are available, the process is referred to as disjunctive socialisation. Finally, with regard to the sixth type of tactics, investiture socialisation takes place when an individual is changed by building on a 'platform' that has already been established. In contrast, if established personal characteristics and work practices are stripped away, a process of divestiture socialisation takes place. These six types of organisational socialisation are utilised in the present study to analyse how a new service-dominant professional identity might be achieved among the employees of an organisation that wishes to inculcate the tenets of S-D logic among its members.
3. Research design
3.1 Research setting
The setting for this case study of the development of a service-dominant professional identity was the introduction of e-government into the Swedish Public Employment Service (PES). In particular, the study focused on the front-line employees and the change program associated with the introduction of e-government in this organisation. In order to carry out its statutory obligations of creating a well-functioning employment market by matching job-seekers with employers wishing to recruit staff, the PES utilises three main channels: (i) an Internet website; (ii) a call centre for customer service; and (iii) local service offices (Swedish Employment Service, 2009). As part of a transition towards greater egovernment, the PES has recently been enhancing its website and associated information and communication technologies (ICTs). According to the European Union (Commission of the European Communities, 2003, p. 7) 'e-government' can be defined as:
? the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in public administration, combined with organisational change and new skills, in order to improve public services.
Previous studies have made similar observations about how the transition from traditional government to e-government always involves the development of a new organisational structure that is focused on employees becoming more skilled and responsive to citizens' needs (Torres et
al., 2005; Åkesson et al., 2008). It is thus apparent that e-government is not only concerned with implementing ICT systems, but also about developing the skills and knowledge of employees. In terms of S-D logic, the transition to e-government therefore involves the optimisation of the operant resources of the organisation to co-create value with the support of modern ICT. In terms of organisational socialisation, the successful implementation of such a program implies the inculcation of what was described in the literature review as a new service-dominant professional identity among the employees.
3.2 Case study design
For these reasons, the transition to e-government in the Swedish PES was considered an appropriate setting for a case study of the nature and implementation of a new service-dominant professional identity among employees. The objectives of the case study were: (i) to establish the content of the new service-dominant professional identity; and (ii) to analyse how employees were socialised into such an identity (it was not to research the effectiveness of the implementation of egovernment at the PES per se). Furthermore, since empirical studies pertaining to S-D logic are lacking, an explorative research design was adopted. The paper thus aims to bring empiricallygrounded knowledge to a key, but empirically understudied, topic of marketing: research into S-D logic and the establishment of a new service-dominant professional identity in particular. As with all qualitative case-study research, the main aim, thus, was not statistical generalisations but analytical generalisations (Yin, 1984). When the latter form of generalization is utilized '?a previously developed theory is used as a template with which to compare the empirical results of the case study' (Yin, 1984, p. 31), thus supporting and developing its claims. In the discussion towards the end of the present paper, an effort is made to generalize analytically on the basis of the case by comparing the study with previous relevant research.
3.3 Data collection
The semi-structured interview was adopted as the main data collection technique. This is reasonable given the lack of previous research and the explorative nature of the paper (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Miles and Huberman, 1994). Supplementary documentary information on the organisation was collected from the website of the PES. The interviews were conducted with 16 front-line employees of the PES (14 females; two males) in accordance with a predetermined interview guide. All interviews began with a short introduction about the objectives and methodology of the research. The following questions were then asked in a semi-structured manner that allowed ample opportunity for interviewees to respond and expand as appropriate:
• • • • • • •
How long have you been working here? How does your work progress during a day? Can you explain what it is you are doing an ordinary day at work? What has changed during the last couple of years (work tasks, customer meetings, etc.)? How has the change been manifested? How has the change affected you in your work situation? Are there any new skills or knowledge that you have been forced to obtain? What characterises a typical employee at your job?
To ensure that interviews were conducted with people who could provide pertinent information about the process of socialisation, a convenience sample of respondents was obtained by a 'snowballing technique'. All respondents had worked for the PES for at least ten years. The interviews, which typically ranged from 30 to 90 minutes, were all recorded before being transcribed verbatim. The quotations from the data presented in this paper have been translated and minimally edited for ease of comprehension.
3.4 Data analysis
Data analysis began with open coding of the transcribed interviews (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Strauss and Corbin, 1998; Layder, 2005). Many of the codes were derived from previous theory, although some codes were also derived de novo from the data. As recommended by Layder (2005), the codes were then transformed to 'themes' (and subsequently to 'categories') by memo- writing. These memos consisted of date, code, researchers' notes, and references to previous theory of relevance. The themes and categories generated from the coding were primarily utilised to describe the first objective of the study (that is, the content of the new service-dominant professional identity). To achieve the second objective of the study (that is, how employees were socialised into such an identity), the themes and categories were reconsidered against the framework of organisational socialisation described above (Van Maanen and Schein, 1979). An example of the utilisation of the data analysis in achieving the first objective is the category of interaction (which was found to be an important aspect of the content of the new service-dominant professional identity). This category was found to consist of two themes: interpretation- and meeting-based interaction. These themes were, in turn, composed of various codes.
With regard to the utilisation of the data analysis in pursuit of the second objective, specific types of tactics of organisational socialisation (such as 'collective socialisation/individual socialisation') were related to data from the transcribed interviews. This enabled an analysis to be made of which tactics had been applied in the present case study and whether they had been effective in establishing the new service-dominant professional identity in this case.
4.1 Content of the new service-dominant professional identity
In seeking to identify the content of the new service-dominant professional identity associated with the e-government program at PES, the data analysis identified four categories of change in the knowledge and skills base of the front-line employees. The four categories, which are discussed in greater detail below, were:
• • • •
interaction; customer orientation; co-creation; and empowerment.
4.1.1 Interaction The category of 'interaction' identified in the data analysis consisted of two themes: (i) 'meetingbased interaction'; and (ii) 'interpretation-based interaction'. The first of these themes, 'meeting-based interaction', refers to the way in which the interactions with the customers actually took place. As part of the e-government program at the PES, the employees received specific training with regard to their demeanour when meeting with their customers; in particular, they were encouraged to be friendly and empathic at all times. Many of the respondents in this study commented on the importance that they attached to this in co-creating value with customers. Two of the interviewees expressed this as follows:
When the customers leave, it is important that they do not feel dejected. I want them to leave with a feeling of inspiration. It is my job to give advice and inspiration to my customers when I meet with them face to face or through other channels such as e-mail.
We have been told to focus on the meeting as an important part of the service. It relates to the need of the customer and providing the customer with good service.
The second theme of the category of 'interaction' was 'interpretation-based interaction'. This refers to the ability of employees to interpret what their customers really want. In many instances this required an ability to 'read between the lines' in order to help customers turn latent needs into overt needs. Several respondents suggested that their customers did not always know
what service they required. Two of the respondents made the following observations about the importance of the skill of interpretation:
I have to be skilful in my profession —read between the lines, listen?? see if there is any pattern in previous work history that might happen again.
I try to form an opinion of what this customer needs because the customer is not always aware of it. How much support does he or she need from me and the employment service, or can the customer do it alone using the technology-based service we offer? I need to answer these kinds of questions for myself in order to give the person good service.
4.1.2 Customer orientation The category of 'customer orientation' identified in the data analysis consisted of two themes: (i) 'customer centrality'; and (ii) 'customer responsibility'. The former refers to making the customer the centre of attention, whereas the latter refers to encouraging customers to be responsible for their own situation as job-seekers. With regard to the first of these themes, 'customer centrality', the e-government program had encouraged the staff of the PES to see job seekers as their customers. This represented a dramatic change of perspective. Two of the interviewees reflected on this change in perspective in the following terms:
We have a new way of looking at our customers; in fact, just seeing them as 'customers' has been a radical change compared to our old perspective as civil servants. Now we put special emphasis on providing service to our customers.
We now try hard to adopt an approach of giving a little more service. This requires a change in attitude that will take time, and it is not always easy. This is especially the case now with the economic crisis, which will lead to more customers for us. I wonder how we will manage, but we will certainly try to put special emphasis on good service and availability.
It is apparent that the employees had adopted a new relationship with their customers that resonated with the tenets of S-D logic. They now saw their customers as collaborative partners. This new mindset had given the employees a new sense of purpose. As another respondent noted:
It is simply a new way of thinking now permeating our work tasks ?? the customer is now the centre of attention. What do they want to get from a visit to us? What kind of information are they looking for? My job is to deal with these questions as promptly as I can.
With regard to the second theme of the category of 'customer orientation', which was designated as 'customer responsibility', several respondents reported that their customers were now expected to take more personal responsibility for their utilisation of the services of the PES. One respondent explained this development in the following way:
We have taken a large step towards individual customers taking on more responsibility. They need to show greater interest in our service by showing that they want to get feedback on their CVs and want to become more skilled in writing letters of application.
It is thus apparent that the introduction of the e-government program had encouraged the customers to accept more responsibility for the co-creation of the service and the employees to support this shift. This development was another example of a change in the professional identity of employees that was in accordance with the tenets of S-D logic. 4.1.3 Co-creation The category of 'co-creation' consisted of three themes: (i) 'technology-based co-creation'; (ii) 'coaching-based co-creation'; and (iii) 'availability-based co-creation'. With regard to the first of these, the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in the provision of services had obviously been significantly enhanced by the introduction of the e-government program at the PES. The shift towards ICT-based service led to the customers taking over some of the work tasks that had previously been undertaken by staff. This involved the customers in service production to a greater extent than had previously been the case. As one respondent explained:
With the help of technology everyone can see where various vacancies are. Through our website, customers can identify relevant job vacancies. They can also link to other pages where even more vacancies are presented. Many people, especially young people, are very good at using this technology. Obviously we [the staff] are very much helped by this.
The PES had provided its employees with many educational opportunities to acquire new IT knowledge and skills. In most cases this had not been problematic as employees expressed a willingness to learn and keep up with new developments. However, not everyone was able to keep up with every aspect of the new technology:
I have put more time into getting acquainted with the new technology, but I am willing to admit that I cannot handle everything. However, I have learned to rely on the customers' knowledge; together we can usually solve the problem. If not there are always my co- workers to ask for help.
It is apparent from the above quotation that the inability of some employees to master aspects of the new technology had unexpectedly created new opportunities for the co-creation of
services in collaboration with customers. Another illustration of this phenomenon was provided by a respondent:
Last week a customer who did not have an email address came in. He did not know how to get one, and neither did I. But I told him that we could take care of this problem together. We spent an hour or so struggling with this problem, but in the end we solved it together. I am not sure who was most pleased —him or me!
The second theme in the category of 'co-creation' was 'coaching-based co-creation'. Coaching had recently been introduced to the PES as a management initiative to assist customers to find the appropriate answers and services for their particular circumstances. The coaches were available for face-to-face meetings with customers during office hours; indeed, they were expected to meet customers as soon as they stepped into the employment service. The advent of these coaches actually facilitated the co-creation of services as they collaborated with customers to solve any issues that they might have. This coaching-based co-creation of value was explained by one respondent in the following terms:
Coaches show the customers where to go from the moment they enter the office. In the past customers took a queue ticket, sat down, and waited their turn. Then we often discovered later that their questions could have been answered at once. So we now work among and together with our customers to offer guidance directly and answer questions. These are things that they used to have to wait for.
It is thus apparent that customers and coaches worked together as collaborative partners— which again resonates with the perspective of S-D logic regarding value creation. The third theme in the category of co-creation was 'availability-based co-creation'. The respondents reported that the advent of e-government had meant that more could be done by customers via e-mail and telephone, which had increased the employees' availability for personal meetings. These developments were expressed thus by an employee:
Customers can do a lot of things from home via our call centre. The same applies to using our website, which is available 24/7 and is one of the most visited sites in Sweden. Because a lot can be solved via the Internet and our customer-service call centre, we can now focus more on the customers we meet with personally.
Indeed, increased availability had apparently influenced customer expectations regarding the frequency and nature of meetings with staff:
If a customer wants help with writing a CV, that customer now expects to be able to go in to the local employment service during office hours and be offered this particular service whenever he or she wants it.
The emphasis on increased availability had led to the PES offering a so-called 'drop-in service'. One respondent explained the 'drop-in service' in the following terms:
We offer a 'drop-in service'. For example, if a customer wants to come in and discuss a change of profession, he or she can just come in to us and we will help ?? Our goal is to create a special sense of customers feeling free to go into the employment service just to see what is going on there. It is supposed to be fun and interesting to visit us.
It was apparent that these developments demanded greater flexibility among staff members, and that this required new skills and knowledge of the employees. The acquisition of these new skills and knowledge represented an important aspect of the establishment of a new servicedominant professional identity. 4.1.4 Empowerment The category of 'empowerment' consisted of two themes: (i) 'education'; and (ii) 'flexibility'. With regard to the first, respondents reported that they were required to attend many highquality on-the-job training sessions to ensure competency development. These educational sessions aimed to empower the employees to be well prepared for the many challenges they faced as a result of the new work situation. One of the respondents summarised the program of staff education in the following terms:
It has to do with a different way of thinking than what we were used to: How can I do this in a better way than I did yesterday?
The second theme of 'flexibility' referred to the fact that changes in the PES meant that employees were now more likely to encounter unfamiliar problems and that they must now be prepared to make decisions on their own initiative. As one respondent expressed it:
I need to be more flexible. I do not know what the next customer has on his or her mind and what questions I have to deal with.
Another respondent corroborated this need for greater flexibility and noted that this required staff members to treat every customer differently—as an individual:
We need to make sure that all our customers are treated right and are respected as grown ups. Therefore we try to get away from collective solutions and instead try to focus on the individual.
4.2 Organisational socialisation tactics
Having established that the content of the new service-dominant professional identity consisted of the categories of 'interaction', 'customer orientation', 'co-creation', and 'empowerment', the second objective was to analyse how this new professional identity was inculcated among employees in this case study. In order to analyse this question, the study drew upon Van Maanen
and Schein's (1979) tactics of organisational socialisation tactics described above. In this particular case study, two types of tactics noted in the literature review ('formal/informal' and 'fixed/variable') did not appear in the data. They were therefore not included in the analysis. The remaining four tactics ('collective/individual', 'sequential/random', 'serial/disjunctive', and investiture/divestiture') were related to the categories of the new service-dominant professional identity, as described below. 4.2.1 Collective socialisation/individual socialisation Collective socialisation tactics were used at the PES to establish all four categories of the new service-dominant professional identity identified above. In particular, collective educational programs were instituted to educate the employees about the first three categories noted above: (i) desirable 'customer interaction'; (ii) having a 'customer orientation'; and (iii) becoming involved in 'cocreation'. Moreover, collective socialisation tactics, mainly in the form of education, were also used for the fourth category of the new professional identity—the empowerment of the employees. It would seem that collective socialisation was preferable to individual socialisation when introducing a managerial initiative based on S-D logic across the entire organisation. Apart from the fact that it would obviously be more time-consuming for management to attempt individual socialisation in these matters, the goal was that all employees should conform to a similar professional identity and a collective sense of organisational loyalty. It is noteworthy that Van Maanen and Schein (1979) had explicitly contended that a collective socialisation process was appropriate in these circumstances. 4.2.2 Sequential socialisation/random socialisation The analysis indicated that random socialisation, rather than sequential socialisation, characterised the process of establishing a service-dominant professional identity at the PES. In general, across all categories of the new professional identity, information about the various steps required of employees was not pre-defined. For example, in the theme of customer responsibility, which formed part of the category of 'customer orientation', one of the most visible changes was the increased engagement of customers in self-service. However, this was not predetermined; rather, it was determined by the evolution and availability of self-service technology—which was often rapid and beyond the control of individual employees. As one respondent explained:
The development of self-service happens so fast that we do not always have time to take in all the information. We have no time to prepare ourselves for the developments ahead.
It was thus apparent in this and other categories of the service-dominant professional identity that random socialisation was typical of the establishment of the new professional
identity. The main reason for this was the increasingly rapid changes taking place in the workplace environment. 4.2.3 Serial socialisation/disjunctive socialisation The socialisation process in the case study was largely serial in nature. This did not necessarily involve specific individuals as 'role models' (as envisaged in serial socialisation), but it did involve the setting-up of various 'pilot projects' at certain offices to ascertain the effectiveness of new ideas. As one respondent explained:
New ideas are not introduced at all offices at once. They are rather 'tried out' at various selected offices. It is not always offices in big cities that are used; we have used offices in smaller villages as well.
It was apparent that these pilot projects involving certain offices and their personnel acted as a sort of 'role model' for the whole organisation, and that the whole socialisation process can therefore be characterised as serial in nature, rather than disjunctive. Another example of serial socialisation was apparent in the utilisation of 'coaches' (as described above), which was also initially introduced in a few offices before being extended more widely. The present analysis thus suggests that serial rather than disjunctive socialisation is more likely to drive the establishment of a new professional identity based on S-D logic in an organisation. The use of pilot projects in implementing a new idea facilitates assessment of the initiatives before implementing the idea (and socialising the employees) across the organisation. 4.2.4 Investiture socialisation/divestiture socialisation There was some evidence that employees at the PES had undergone a process of divesture socialisation in acquiring new skills and knowledge. As one respondent observed:
In our culture we have certain work methods. I have been forced to let many of these methods go—even methods that I believe in. But this had to be done in order to adopt the new methods I am requested to believe in.
Further evidence of divestiture socialisation, in which old conventions were stripped away and replaced by new ideas, was provided by another respondent:
We have not always had a positive image [but] we are now working hard to change this image—both in terms of how we view ourselves and how the customers view us.
There was thus evidence of a divestiture socialisation process in this case study. However, it was also apparent that investiture socialisation processes contributed to the formation of a servicedominant professional identity at the PES. For example, with regard to the category of 'customer orientation', there was evidence that many employees were already customer-oriented
to some degree; however, this attitude was reinforced and enhanced in the e-government initiative. As another example, it was apparent that the theme of 'technology-based co-creation' elaborated on a previously established platform of technological knowledge. Finally, the study found that the theme of 'interpretation-based interaction' has always been an important aspect of the employees' work; however, as a result of the management initiatives associated with the implementation of e-government, interpretation-based interaction had become even more prominent. In summary, both 'investiture socialisation' and 'divestiture socialisation' were apparent in the inculcation of the new service-dominant professional identity in this case study.
The fundamental novelty of this paper lies in empirically studying the realization of S-D logic from an organisational socialisation perspective. The S-D logic literature (see, for instance, Lusch et al., 2007; Vargo and Lusch, 2004; 2008b) argues for the necessity of identifying and developing the fundamental knowledge and skills - the operant resources - of an organisation, the most prominent of which being the employees, in order to realize an S-D logic. Organisational socialisation theory provides a framework for analysing how distinct types of knowledge and skills become aligned with an organisation and, in particular, with the employees' professional identity. More specifically, the organisational socialisation literature can be drawn on to identify the fundamental knowledge and skills informing a specific type of organisation as well as how this knowledge and these skills can be developed. In the present paper, by means of studying e- government at the PES, the focus has been on identifying the fundamental knowledge and skills that characterize the S-D logic-informed organisation and the employees' service-dominant professional identity within such an organisation, as well as how organisations and their employees are advanced in this direction. Indeed, coming up with the notion of service-dominant professional identity is a key contribution made by the present paper. Furthermore, the organisational socialisation framework provides an avenue for studying other areas of service management and marketing over and above S-D logic. The core of previous research into service management and marketing has been geared towards outlining practices - e.g. service quality measurement tools, service culture frameworks, and service development schemes - for managing the human resources of organisations. However, the effects that such practices have had on organisations and their members have been studied rather little. Theories of organisational socialisation provide a framework for studying just that (Skålén 2009, 2010). Turning to the more specific results of the present paper, the analysis of the establishment of S-D logic at the PES from an organisational socialisation perspective identified four
fundamental elements in the new service-dominant professional identity: (i) interaction; (ii) customer orientation; (iii) co-creation; and (iv) empowerment. In other words, in developing its organisation in accordance with the tenets of S-D logic, it was apparent that the management of the PES had attempted to improve their employees' interactive skills, their degree of customer orientation, their co-creation skills, and their degree of empowerment. These findings obviously resonate with the conceptual literature on S-D logic. For example, empowered employees with the ability to co-create value have been posited as key elements of S-D logic by the original authors of the concept (Lusch et al., 2007; Vargo and Lusch, 2004, 2008c). The emphasis on customer orientation has also been supported by many empirical studies of market orientation, which is one of the streams of research that has been identified by Vargo and Lusch (2004) as fundamental to the development of S-D logic. In this regard, a customer focus in market orientation has been advocated by such scholars as Kholi and Jaworski (1990), Narver and Slater (1990), and Gebhart et al. (2006) Of the four categories identified in the present study, the least emphasised in the literature on S-D logic is probably the category of 'interaction'. Nonetheless, the notion of 'interactive marketing' has been an important concept in the literature on services marketing and management since the early 1980s (Grönroos 1982, 1984) and has been an important basis for the development of the concept of relationship marketing (Gummesson 1987, 2008). The present study has also suggested how organisational socialisation can promote the establishment of such a service-dominant professional identity among employees. The analysis has shown that a variety of socialisation processes (collective, random, serial, investiture, and divestiture) were utilised in establishing a service-dominant professional identity among staff members at the PES. The prominence of various forms of education in these socialisation processes is in accordance with Vargo and Lusch's (2008c) contention that ongoing education is required to shape the knowledge and skills of the key operant resources of any organisation—the employees.
6. Conclusions and implications
This paper contributes to marketing research in several ways. First, the study is apparently the first to have explicitly examined how S-D logic might be realised in practice. Secondly, the study is apparently the first to have utilised the theory of organisational socialisation to analyse the realisation of S-D logic in an organisation. Thirdly, by drawing on the literature on organisational socialisation, the present paper has developed the novel notion of a 'service-dominant professional identity'. Fourthly, the study has empirically identified the elements that characterise such a service-dominant professional identity: (i) interaction; (ii) customer orientation; (iii) co-
creation; and (iv) empowerment. Finally, the paper has suggested five tactics of organisational socialisation that can be utilised to achieve a service-dominant professional identity among the employees of an organisation that is committed to the tenets of S-D logic: (i) collective socialisation; (ii) random socialisation; (iii) serial socialisation; (iv) investiture socialisation; and (v) divestiture socialisation. The study also finds that these tactics are best employed through various form of education. In practical terms, the present study suggests that managers who wish to inculcate S-D logic in their organisations should focus on developing the skills of their employees in terms of customer interaction and co-creation. They also need to empower employees to make decisions on their own initiative and to assist employees in understanding what a customer orientation means in their specific contexts. In order to accomplish this, appropriate educational programs are needed. The use of role models and/or pilot projects has also been identified as an important means of achieving change. As with all qualitative case-study research, the main limitation of the present study is that no statistical generalisations can be made; case studies only allow for analytical generalisations (Yin, 1984). Quantitative research is thus required in future studies to validate the suggestions made here. In particular, future quantitative research should focus on researching how general the four elements of the service-dominant professional identity identified here are across empirical contexts. The focus should also be on the extent to which the five socialisation tactics identified here account for the inculcation of a service-dominant professional identity in diverse organisations. It is also acknowledged that the empirical data for the present study was derived only from interviews with employees; research into the role of other key operant resources, such as customers, is thus required to establish how S-D logic can best be inculcated in an organisation.
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, Socialisation Perspective
, Professional Identity
Description:Case Study on Service-dominant Professional Identity: An Organisational Socialisation Perspective, Socialization is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and educationalists to refer to the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society. Socialization is thus ‘the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained’.