Quality and productivity: role conflict in the service context

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents a qualitative study exploring service employees' experiences of quality-productivity tensions in the workplace, and how they cope with such conflicts. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 50 service employees. Content analysis suggests that organization-level conflict derives from the different channels that service organizations use to convey the importance of quality (e.g. training) and of productivity (e.g. rewards) to employees. During service interactions, employees experience conflict when standardization is violated and productivity is threatened. Our results demonstrate and explain employees' strategies for coping with the conflict between productivity and quality and with the 'double message' they receive about these two goals. Many of these strategies are intended to ensure quality while maintaining productivity. We discuss the study's contribution to service science, and explain existing organizational mechanisms and processes for communicating the importance of quality and productivity to employees. Implications for service management are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-973
Number of pages19
JournalService Industries Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • climate signs
  • productivity
  • role conflict
  • service quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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