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The service function as a holistic management concept
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Industrial Marketing and Industrial Economics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4081-9737
2011 (English)In: The journal of business & industrial marketing, ISSN 0885-8624, Vol. 26, no 7, 484-492 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose of the paper

This article introduces the service function concept, as well as why and how it can be a useful concept for addressing service management challenges in industrial firms.


Two in-depth case studies of global industrial firms enabled a thorough understanding of the roles of the service function entities and interdependencies between them.


Although the service organization is most likely the key entity, it is only one part of the service function; other organizational entities are to be seen as part-time service functions.

Research limitations/implications

A finer-grained conceptualization would enable a better understanding of the front- and back-office entities involved in the service processes.

Practical implications

The concept can be useful when communicating the importance of services and the interrelatedness between the service organization and other parts of the firm, which generates better internal understanding of the service processes. The alignment between service offering and organization can be elaborated by mapping where service development, sales, and production take place, what the ideal configuration would be, and the roles played by different parts of the service function.

Originality/value of the paper

The service function is a novel concept and is particularly relevant for industrial firms that offer services. It highlights the fact that it is erroneous to equate services with the activities of the service organization. Instead, a more holistic approach to the management of service offerings is needed.

Type of paper: Conceptual

Keywords: Service function, service organization, industrial services, manufacturing

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald , 2011. Vol. 26, no 7, 484-492 p.
Keyword [en]
Service function, service organization, industrial services, manufacturing
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-70494DOI: 10.1108/08858621111162280ISI: 000297829900003OAI: diva2:439934
Original Publication: Christian Kowalkowski , The service function as a holistic management concept, 2011, The journal of business & industrial marketing, (26), 7, 484-492. Copyright: Emerald from: 2011-09-20 Created: 2011-09-09 Last updated: 2014-04-14Bibliographically approved

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