A typology of decoupling strategies in mixed services
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A typology of a class of service systems is proposed. The typology links strategic operational objectives to the decision to de-couple work between the front and back offices of a service system. Four specific ideal types of a strategy/de-coupling mix are described; each of which has distinct operational, marketing and human resource ramifications. A type that has had significant representation in traditional literature is the `Cost Leader' type, where back-office activities are de-coupled from the front office for the purpose of lowering costs. Another traditional type representative of the craftsman legacy is the `Personal Service' type, which retains back-office tasks in the front office to pursue non-cost-oriented strategic goals. Theoretical and empirical evidence is also given for two non-traditional types: the `Kiosk' type, where all tasks remain in the front office to achieve lower costs, and the `Focused Professional' type, which de-couples front- and back-office activities to enable front-office workers to provide higher service, rather than to reduce costs. Empirically, retail bank lending systems are analyzed to support the typology.