Employees’ agency in the formalisation of knowledge-intensive business service processes: A cross-case comparison
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Scientific › peer-review
|Number of pages||26|
|Journal||Journal of Service Theory and Practice|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2019|
|Publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|
Design/methodology/approach – This paper employs a qualitative multiple-case study approach to compare employees’ agency in six successful formalisation projects targeting different types of KIBS processes in three firms. Through a systematic mapping of employees’ agency across the cases, this study reveals alternative patterns of formalisation that enable agency.
Findings – The findings reveal notable differences in employees’ agency in the studied cases. When KIBS processes were scale-intensive and/or the culture favoured conformity, formalisation projects were centrally organised, and employees obeyed codified process templates, even though some agency remained. When KIBS processes were smaller scale and/or the culture favoured freedom, employees conducted formalisation projects autonomously and retained higher levels of agency in formalised KIBS processes.
Practical implications – Firms and business units providing KIBS should choose their formalisation approaches locally based on the scalability of the KIBS process, their employees’ skill levels, knowledge bases and culture. Choosing the right approach enables flexibility while striving for efficient processes.
Originality/value – Previous studies suggest that formalisation benefits only some KIBS, but this comparative approach shows that a variety of KIBS processes benefit from formalisation if the formalisation approach is tailored to the context. Alternative patterns of formalisation are revealed to guide further empirical research on the topic.