Research Overview

Service Science makes the claim that services and service systems should be used to understand the structure and activities within and between organisations. Modularising the organisation on the basis of service system, and describing the deliverables of these systems in terms of services, should improve efficiency and effectiveness and improve business agility. However, this claim has not been demonstrated.

Every organized human activity … gives rise to two fundamental and opposing requirements: the division of labor into various tasks to be performed and the coordination of these tasks to accomplish the activity. The structure of an organization can be defined simply as the sum total of the ways in which it divides its labor into distinct tasks and the achieves coordination among them. [1] {emphasis in original}

Co-ordination, although essential to business organisation, is not something that people do well [2]. Individuals are good at negotiating on the division of work, but poor at providing the on-going communications necessary to enable negotiations on integration.

Good fences make good neighbors - Robert Frost, Mending Walls

Boundaries are important.

Research Questions

  1. Is it possible to describe the division of labour within an organisation in terms of services and service systems?
  2. Is it possible to describe the co-ordination between these service systems?
  3. How does this Service Science method of describing the organisational structure compare to other methods?

1. Mintzberg, H. 1979, The Structuring of Organizations, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs.
2. Heath, C. & Staudenmayer, N. 2000, 'Coordination neglect: How lay theories of organising complicate coordination in organizations', Research in Organizational Behaviour, vol. 22, pp. 155-193.
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