Service ManagementAcademic Issues and Scholarly Reflections from Operations Management Researchers*
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Services are now a larger portion of the economy than manufacturing for every nation on Earth, and services are an overwhelming portion of Western economies. While decision-making research has begun responding to this change, much of the scholarly work still addresses manufacturing issues. Particularly revealing is the field of operations management (OM), in which the proportion of manuscripts dedicated to services has been estimated at 3%, 6%, and 7.5% by various authors. We investigate several possible reasons for the neglect of services in research, including the difficulty in defining services, viewing services as derivative activities, a lack of defined processes, a lack of scale in services, and the effect of variability on service performance. We argue that times have changed, and none of these reasons is valid anymore. We sound the warning that failure to emphasize services in our research and teaching may signal the decline of the discipline. We note the proportion of OM faculty in business schools has shrunk in the past 10 years. Finally, we examine a selection of service research agendas and note several directions for high-impact, innovative research to revitalize the decision sciences. With practitioners joining the call for more research in services, the academic community has an exciting opportunity to embrace services and reshape its future. 2007, Decision Sciences Institute.