Through-Life Accountability: Managing Complex Services
Shift to Services
Manufacturers turning into service providers need to develop a whole new set of capabilities and adapt their organisational structures and processes so that they reflect the relationship-based nature of services. What is more, by taking over the customers’ operations, they have to deal with greater responsibilities than before, and for long periods of time. In particular, since they have to deliver ‘results’ rather than products they have to assume uncertainties that were previously the concern of the customer.
As a result, manufacturers need to have a clear understanding of where accountability lies in the event of failure of a provided service through-life in order to reduce the risk of failures and hedge the organisation against liabilities. However, accountability has many forms and dimensions which are not independent. As a result, it is far from straightforward for organisations to understand and deal with their accountabilities, especially in the case of servitized manufacturers where the product may be provided by one organisation, and the support services by a large network of partners.
Nonetheless, manufacturers still need to adapt within these complex environments and provide a fail-safe service for everyone involved. Yet, what gives rise to safety risks and, most important, how a manufacturer can best manage them, are issues that still have to be addressed and there is paucity of research on the guidance or tools that can be used by manufacturers for identifying and managing accountabilities and reduce the risk of failures.
The High Reliability Organisations –HROs– literature examines organisations that cannot afford to fail and highlights the key characteristics that successful organisations should have in order to promote safety:
- Commitment to standard procedures
- Culture of continuous learning
- Commitment to results and safety
- Flexible structures
- In-built system and human redundancy
- Outstanding technology
- Effective communication
- Reward systems for reporting failures and
- Establishment of minimum requirements
(e.g. Roberts et al. 1994; Tranfield et al. 2003; Hopkins 2007; Sullivan & Beach 2009; Saleh et al. 2010; Lekka & Sugden 2011; Sutcliffe 2011; Makri & Neely 2015)
But these studies focus only on single organisations
We investigate how servitized manufacturers can sustain a high safety level in services given the large networks and long-term contracts involved in service provision, by examining the factors that can lead to accidents within a service environment. Furthermore, we aim to examine how incident reporting can impact safety in services and identify any barriers and facilitators and how these change through-life.
We expect that the results of this research will be of use to both the academic and practitioner community. This study will be an exploratory research with the analysis based on qualitative methods:
Contact: Chara Makri