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Service Operations Management research

Article  in  Journal of Operations Management · April 2007

DOI: 10.1016/j.jom.2006.04.005


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3 authors, including:

José A.D. Machuca Victor G. Aguilar-Escobar

Universidad de Sevilla Universidad de Sevilla


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Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

Service Operations Management research

José A.D. Machuca *, Marı́a del Mar González-Zamora,
Vı́ctor G. Aguilar-Escobar
University of Sevilla, GIDEAO Research Group, Dpto. de Economı́a Financiera y Dirección de Operaciones,
Avda. Ramón y Cajal, 1, 41018 Sevilla, Spain
Received 25 April 2005; received in revised form 8 February 2006; accepted 6 April 2006
Available online 22 June 2006

The extraordinary importance of the services sector for the economy both in production and employment cannot be denied. As a
result, there have been both demands for an increase in Service Operations Management (SOM) research since the 1980s on the one
hand, and, on the other, predictions that such an increase will take place [e.g.: Buffa, E.S., 1980. Research in Operations
Management. Journal of Operations Management 1 (1), 1–8; Miller, J.G., Graham, M.B.W., Freeland, J.R., Hottenstein, M.,
Maister, D.M., Meredith, J., Schmenner, R.W., 1981. Production/Operations Management: agenda for the 80s. Decision Science 12
(4), 547–571; Mabert, V.A., 1982. Service Operations Management: research and application. Journal of Operations Management 2
(4), 203–209; Amoako-Gyampah, K., Meredith, J.R., 1989. The Operations Management research agenda: an update. Journal of
Operations Management 8 (3), 250–262; Chase, R.B., 1996. The mall is my factory: reflections of a service junkie. Production and
Operations Management 5 (4), 298–308; Pannirselvam, G.P., Ferguson, L.A., Ash, R.C., Siferd, S.P., 1999. Operations Management
research: an update for the 1990s. Journal of Operations Management 18 (1), 95–112; Roth, A.V., Menor, L.J., 2003. Insights into
service Operations Management: a research agenda. Production and Operations Management 12 (2), 145–164; Slack, N., Lewis,
M., Bates, H., 2004. The two worlds of Operations management research and practice. Can they meet, should they meet?
International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 24 (4), 372–387]. And yet, the amount of SOM research done in
OM research has still only been minimal. This contradiction calls for an in-depth study of the state of affairs of SOM research, and
we have conducted just such a study in 10 of the most relevant and representative outlets in the OM field, as well as in pipeline
research (Proceedings of the POMS, DSI and EurOMA Conferences). Our results aim to provide answers to the following questions,
amongst others: (1) Is greater importance now attached to SOM research within OM research? (2) What are the main topics of
research? Are they the same topics that have been proposed in SOM research agendas? (3) What methods are used in SOM research?
(4) What are the most commonly studied sectors of economic activities? (5) Are there any differences from OM research in terms of
content and methods? Some of our findings show that although a growth in SOM research had been predicted in earlier studies, there
is still only a minimal amount done (7.5% of OM research); seven topics command 61.5% of SOM research, which (with some
exceptions) is consistent with SOM research agendas; there is more research done on strategic issues than on tactical/operational
issues; models and simulations are still more common than empirical research, but trends point to a shift to the latter; the majority of
research focuses on a specific sector, and three sectors account for 50% of the total; there is a clear connection between type of
journal and type of research, research method and sector of activity.
# 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Service operations management; SOM content; Research methods; SOM research

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 954 55 76 10; fax: +34 954 55 75 70.
E-mail address: jmachuca@cica.es (José A.D. Machuca).

0272-6963/$ – see front matter # 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
586 J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

1. Introduction, objectives and justification research in SOM had not been met. Observations made
in recent papers by other authors (e.g. Roth and Menor,
Some of the most fundamental features that have 2003; Slack et al., 2004; Johnston, 2005) suggest that, in
characterized developed economies in recent decades their opinion, there is still not enough research being
are connected with the services sector, confirming the done in SOM.
great importance the sector has: There is an evident contradiction between the
importance of services in the real world and the little
(a) The extraordinary role played by the services sector attention paid to it in Operations Management
in production. OECD statistical data for 2003 research (despite the fact that it is continually found
(OECD, 2005a) attributes approximately 70% of the on research agendas) and this, in our view, demanded
GDP to services in a large number of developed an in-depth study on the state of current SOM research
countries (e.g. USA 76.5%; France 75.9%; UK to be done which would cover both numbers of SOM
73.8%; Italy 70.9%; Germany 70.1%; Japan 69.6%, publications and other important issues. And yet, to
and Spain 67.2%). date none had been conducted. This was not the case
(b) The important role the services sector plays in for other significant OM sub-areas, such as Interna-
employment. Per-sector civilian employment data tional Operations Management (published in JOM by
for 2004 (OECD, 2005b) puts this at over 60% in Prasad and Babbar (2000)) or Supply Chain Manage-
many advanced economies (e.g. USA 78.4%; UK ment (Alfaro Tanco et al., 2002). Our study was
76.4%; France 72.6%; Japan 67.1%; Germany conducted with the intention of addressing what we
66.6%; Italy 64.5%, and Spain 64%). And, more- considered to be an urgent need. Its prime objective
over, this is a growing trend (e.g. in the USA the was to determine the state of affairs of SOM research
figure increased from 66.4% to 78.4% between 1981 in the most relevant outlets in the field of Operations
and 2004, whereas during the same period Management. The study was designed to answer four
manufacturing fell from 30.1% to 20%, and basic questions:
agriculture from 3.5% to 1.6% (OECD, 2005a)).
(c) Service activities are being incorporated more and (a) What variations, if any, might have taken place in
more into manufacturing companies. It has been underlying trends for the number of SOM publica-
calculated that between 30% and 70% of added tions in OM research since the publication of the
value in a typical manufacturing company can be most recent studies into the latter?
attributed to the services constituent (Rosen, 1998). (b) What are the main topics of research?
(c) What methods are used in SOM research?
The relevance of the services sector in developed (d) Which sectors of activity (if any) are the most
countries should be reflected in the importance given to commonly studied?
instruction and research in the various areas of service
company management and administration. But, is this Knowing the answers to these questions is important
really the case? for any subject field, but it is crucial for those, such as
There has been an awareness of this importance in SOM, which are still emerging. It is especially
the specific case of Operations Management (OM) for important when the due attention a subject’s importance
over 20 years. In their OM research agenda published in in the real world demands does not seem to be paid to it.
Decision Sciences, Miller et al. (1981) cited Service The answers to these questions do not only allow the
Operations Management (SOM) as one of their four state of affairs of SOM research to be established
special interest groups. Eight years later, Amoako- through quantitative data for the first time, but they are
Gyampah and Meredith (1989) published an updated also useful in other ways: (a) they show whether SOM
Operations Management research agenda in JOM based has begun to occupy a position in OM research that is
on Miller et al. (1981) amongst others. Once again SOM more in keeping with its importance in the real world;
is named as one of the important subjects to be taken (b) they allow a comparison to be made with OM
into consideration. Although the percentage of SOM research in manufacturing to see whether the two sets of
research was very small, it was forecast that it would results really are different, as stated by one sector of OM
play an increasingly important role. Nevertheless, a scholars; (c) they allow SOM research content to be
further update on the state of research in Operations compared with the needs that are expressed in SOM
Management published in JOM by Pannirselvam et al. research agendas; (d) they will also show researchers
(1999) stated that expectations for growth in published the most researched topics and sectors and these which
J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603 587

seem to need more attention, as well as the most used Management (IJOPM), IIE Transactions (IIET), Har-
research methods in SOM. vard Business Review, California Management Review,
The following section offers a brief review of Sloan Management Review, and Strategic Management
literature, the methodology used is then set out and, Journal. SOM was one of the 17 topics into which
finally, the results obtained are commented upon. The research was classified. The authors decided to consider
study ends with a section devoted to main conclusions it as a specific topic on the basis of the importance it was
and final considerations. Our study into SOM reseach given in the Miller et al. (1981) research agenda and its
focuses on the period from 1997 to 2002 and begins at growing importance within the discipline of Operations
the end of the period analyzed by Pannirselvam et al. Management. Nevertheless, it only achieved 6.35% (23
(1999) with a view to determining whether any changes articles in 6 years out of a total of 362), a figure that is
have taken place since then. clearly inadequate. Similarly, an analysis of doctoral
theses in US Business Schools between 1980 and 1986
2. Literature review (Hill et al., 1987) showed that SOM was not one of the
topics that had grown significantly.
Our literature review basically focused on studies Despite all these results, Amoako-Gyampah and
that were analogous to our own. Literature on a range of Meredith believed that there would be an increase in
SOM research agendas is commented on in Section 4.2. SOM research publications in the near future. They
Only one previous study on Services Operations based this assertion on an analysis of the conference
Management research could be found (Mabert, 1982). proceedings of the Decision Sciences Institute (1986
The remaining studies that we found that were linked in and 1987) as an indicator of pipeline research: future
some way to the issues set out in Section 1 that we growth was only forecast for 7 of the 17 topics
wished to address, concentrated on the wider and more considered, and SOM was in fifth position, with
general field of Operations Management or one of its 14.18% of the papers (compared to 6.35% in the
more significant areas. The aggregated data on SOM journals).
research in OM, as well as the general proposals made The results of the Pannirselvam et al. study (1999)
for OM research content and methods, were taken as showed that what had been forecast did not come about.
viable points-of-reference for comparison with the In an analysis of seven relevant journals in the OM field
current state of affairs for research in SOM, and also for (1992–1997), the percentage of SOM publications was
establishing whether the growth that was expected 2.71%. Six of the journals that were analyzed were also
actually took place. on the Amoako-Gyampah and Meredith list (JOM, MS,
Mabert’s paper (1982) is not an exhaustive analysis IIE, DS, IJPR, IJOPM); the seventh is Production and
of SOM publications. As the author stated, it is only a Operations Management (POM), which did not begin
‘‘reasonably illustrative’’ sample of studies from the publication until the 1990s.
previous few years. The author classified papers from The results of other studies on partial OM issues are
three points-of-view: their focus (research or applica- no better. In a comparative study of research in
tion), the sector of activity, and the particular problem International Operations Management (IOM) and in
decision area (topic). As the author did not make any OM published in 28 journals during the 1986–1997
reference to the state of OM research, we were unable to period (Prasad et al., 2000), only 3.07% of the IOM
infer what the relative importance given to SOM articles addressed the services sector. Given the
research within the field of OM was at that time. increasing importance of services in international
Despite the importance given to Services Operations operations, the authors were puzzled by the result
Management by a number of significant OM authors at and hold the view that changes will occur as
the beginning of the 1980s (e.g. Buffa, 1980; Chase, development towards service economies continues
1980; Miller et al., 1981), no great change could be worldwide. The authors of a literature review on mass
observed a decade later. When they updated their OM customization (MC) (Da Silveira et al., 2001) similarly
research agenda, Amoako-Gyampah and Meredith cite the lack of studies on MC in services as one of the
(1989) analyzed publications in the field appearing in yawning gaps in literature on this subject. Pannirselvam
10 scientific journals for the period of 1982–1987: et al. (1999), meanwhile, also analyzed the DSI and
Journal of Operations Management (JOM), Decision POMS Conference Proceedings (1996 and 1997). Of the
Sciences (DS), Management Science (MS), Interna- 17 topics examined, SOM was in fourth place by
tional Journal of Production Research (IJPR), Interna- number of papers with 14%. The percentage difference
tional Journal of Operations and Production between conference papers and journal publications for
588 J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

SOM outstripped those for all other topics by a wide earlier studies. Amoako-Gyampah and Meredith (1989,
margin. This would therefore also have pointed to p. 257) only indicated that there were not many studies
expectations for a large increase in the number of SOM- devoted to specific service sectors (only five articles).
related articles from 1997 onwards. However, Mabert’s paper did not indicate which sectors
One of the objectives of our paper was to determine the studies that were analyzed focused upon.
whether the increase expected by a variety of authors
has occurred, which leads us to compare the present 3. Research methodology
state of SOM research with the data found in the
aforementioned studies. The fact that services appear in 3.1. The choice of the journals to be analyzed
this data in aggregate terms means that a comparative
analysis of the evolution of the various SOM topics is There is a wide range and a large number of studies
not possible. Only Mabert’s paper allows us to make a devoted to determining the importance of the journals
comparison of this type, albeit still a very limited one. that publish OM study results. Some are based on an
However, a comparison with a number of SOM research analysis of the quality and the relevance of the
agendas is made. journals (e.g. Barman et al., 1991, 2001; Young et al.,
Another of the aspects addressed looks at the 1996; Soteriou et al., 1999); others are based on the
methods employed in SOM research and the way they number of citations (e.g. Vokurka, 1996; Goh et al.,
have evolved. As far as the results of earlier studies 1997; Pilkington and Liston-Heyes, 1999). The lists
allow, the current situation for SOM will also be and rankings of journals that appear in studies of this
compared with the situation for OM during previous type are generally used as the basis for selecting those
periods. Although some authors called for empirical to be taken into account for an analysis of research in
methods to be used in OM research from the beginning OM or any of its sub-areas. One or two lists are
of the 1980s (e.g. Buffa, 1980; Miller et al., 1981), usually used (e.g. Amoako-Gyampah and Meredith
quantitative methods seem to have continued to (1989) uses one, whereas Pannirselvam et al. (1999)
dominate. This is stated in Amoako-Gyampah and and Prasad and Babbar (2000) use two). Nevertheless,
Meredith (1989), which shows that models and given the differences in the classifications found in the
simulations (with a combined 68.82%) are used to a above-mentioned seven studies, we decided to
much greater degree than empirical methods (15.96%). broaden the basis for selection to include all of these.
An analysis of conference proceedings did not indicate We have based our selection of relevant journals in the
that there would be any great changes in the near future field on three criteria: (a) They had to be included in at
except in the case of surveys and case studies, with least two of the studies; (b) they had to have been
figures in proceedings almost doubling those in journals ranked in the first five in at least one of the studies; (c)
(13.21% versus 7.22% and 7.54% versus 4.94%, they had to have been ranked in the first 10 in at least
respectively). one other.
This forecast was confirmed by the results of the The application of these rules resulted in a list of
Pannirselvam et al. (1999) study which appeared some eleven journals for the publication of OM research
10 years later. Models and simulation were still in first results (in alphabetical order): Decision Sciences (DS),
place by a large margin (with a combined pecentage of Harvard Business Review (HBR), International Journal
71.4% compared to 20.76% for empirical methods). In of Operations and Production Management (IJOPM),
the same vein, Wacker (1998) indicated that analytical International Journal of Productions Economics (IJPE),
mathematical research in OM ‘‘is by far the most The International Journal of Production Research
popular methodology and appears to be over- (IJPR), Journal of Operations Management (JOM),
researched’’. Other authors also demanded more Management Science (MS), Operations Research (OR),
emphasis on empirical research; Meredith (1998), for Production and Inventory Management (PIM), and
example, documented ‘‘the advantages and rigor of Production and Operations Management (POM). It can
case/field research’’ and argued that ‘‘these methods are be seen (see Section 2) that all the journals analyzed by
preferable to more traditional rationalist methods of Pannirselvam et al. (1999) again appear on our list,
optimization, simulation and statistical modeling for the which also includes HBR, IJPE, OR and PIM. Two
construction of new OM theories’’. It is obvious that this types of journal can be clearly distinguished in the
need exists in SOM. group as a whole; the first is composed of journals that
The last issue that is addressed, research in specific are OM-specific (IJPOM, IJPE, IJPR, JOM, PIM and
sectors, has, in general terms, not been touched upon in POM), and the remainder are related to the broader field
J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603 589

Table 1
Classification of journals (by type and in alphabetical order)
Type Journals Studies
Barman Soteriou Young Barman Pilkington and Goh Vokurka
et al. et al. et al. et al. Liston-Heyes et al. (1996)
(2001) (1999) (1996) (1991) (1999) (1997)
OM IJOPM 10th 2nd 13th 7th 2nd 9th 12th
IJPE 14th 8th 10th 4th 33rd
IJPR 8th 5th 6th 3rd 3rd 1st 2nd
JOM 1st 1st 3rd 1st 6th 6th 5th
PIM 13th 13th 20th 12th 4th 7th 8th
POM 2nd 4th 4th
OR/MS DS 4th 15th 2nd 2nd 7th 8th 4th
IIET 6th 11th 5th 6th 29th 3rd 6th
MS 3rd 3rd 1st 5th 5th 2nd 1st
OR 5th 6th 8th 11th 9th 5th 3rd
No. of journals analyzed 21 35 21 20 42 49 25

of Operations Research/Management Science (OR/ articles. It also allowed the remainder of the questions
MS)1 (DS, IIET, MS and OR). We considered that it set out in Section 1 to be addressed: What specific topics
would be interesting to take these two groups into are studied? What research methods are used? And,
account when examining and comparing SOM articles. what sectors are taken into consideration?
The HBR was found to be an isolated case which, if it To answer these four questions, in the first instance
were taken into consideration, might impair the we read the summaries; if these were not sufficiently
comparison, and so we decided not to include it in clear about any aspect, we resorted to the complete
our analysis (it was not included in Pannirselvam et al. version. If the classification of some aspects in an article
(1999), either). Our study therefore focused on the 10 was not entirely clear to the person who was analyzing
remaining journals. Table 1 shows the position they all it, it was passed on to the remaining authors, with a final
held in the seven studies taken into account. decision on the matter being taken by consensus. This
same procedure has been used by other authors (e.g.
Pannirselvam et al., 1999; Prasad and Babbar, 2000).
3.2. Choice and analysis of articles
When this process was complete, 344 SOM articles had
been selected and analyzed out of a total of 4609 OM
The subject of our analysis is Operations Manage-
articles published in the 10 journals analyzed for 1997–
ment articles in the services sector in the strict sense.
2002. As can be imagined, this was an arduous and
For this reason we have not considered service activities
extremely time-consuming task.
in manufacturing companies. For the same reason,
The second question, which involves an analysis of
neither have we considered articles that focus on
content, requires a classification of possible topics for
techniques and/or models that can be used both in
research. For this we used the Aguilar Escobar and
manufacturing and in services. We did not consider such
Machuca (2000) classification. Said authors stated that a
articles as meeting the test of a true SOM focus, except
SOM structure was required for any analysis in this field
when they could have some application to services. In
of the discipline to be performed. Their proposed
cases where it was not possible to clearly determine the
structure has four levels of aggregation, with each of
true focus of an article, a consensus amongst the authors
these including the following level. In decreasing order
determined whether it should be accepted or rejected.
of aggregation, these levels are: groups, topics, sections
An analysis of the selected articles allowed the total
and subsections. The authors took the structure found on
number of SOM articles to be calculated, and this figure
the level of topics in OM books by Machuca et al.
to be given as a proportion of the total number of OM
(1995a,b) as their starting-point. This distinguishes
strategic, tactical and operational issues and is set out
The appearance of this last group is not surprising given the above- hierarchically and includes long-, medium- and short-
stated dominance of quantitative research in OM research. terms decisions. A proposed structure for SOM was
590 J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

based on this and on information that was taken from Some of the articles reviewed dealt with aspects that
the eight most relevant SOM handbooks and 143 could be assigned to more than one topic. Given that one
syllabuses for the subject from all over the world. The of the objectives of our study was to identify topics of
structure distinguishes between 5 SOM topic groups interest in SOM research, we counted each of the topics
which are subdivided into 20 topics and 82 sections. In that appeared in each article separately. This criteria has
our study, we have used the classification shown in been used in other studies (e.g. Pannirselvam et al.,
Table 2, which includes only four SOM groups. The 1999).
fifth one, devoted to Supply Chain Management, have The third question to be analyzed is connected with
been subdivided into three topics which we have the methods used in research. Other authors (e.g. Van
included in groups 2, 3 or 4 depending on the type of Hoek, 2001; Alfaro Tanco et al., 2002; Scandura and
decision entailed. When any of the authors was unsure Williams, 2000; Prasad et al., 2000; Claver Cortés et al.,
of the topic of an article, all authors conferred until a 1999; Swamidass, 1991; Meredith et al., 1989), apart
consensus was reached. Given the way the structure was from those mentioned in Section 2, have dealt with this
established, we believe it allowed the various SOM issue. As no full agreement could be found amongst the
research aspects to be suitably assigned within the various above-mentioned studies as to which criteria to
structure itself, and, therefore, to be appropriate for use, an analysis led us to opt for classifying research
establishing the state of affairs of SOM research. methods in the following way: theoretical/conceptual
Nevertheless, if we had discovered that the assignation (T/C), literature review (LR), models and simulations
of some research content were not possible, the (M/S) and empirical studies (E). This classification
structure would have been expanded appropriately. allowed us to make a comparison with earlier studies
This was not the case, however. and to determine any similarities or differences with
OM, as well as to see how the quantity of empirical
Table 2 research had evolved.
Structure of SOM topics (adapted from Aguilar Escobar and Machuca Given the demands for more use of empirical
(2000) and Aguilar Escobar (2003)) methods in OM, we devoted special attention to said
1Introduction and key issues of management in services methods and tried to identify the research design of
(henceforth Group 1 or G1) empirical papers. We have used a type of classification
1.1. Introduction and key issues of management in services taken from the studies mentioned above, and also from
2Service operations strategies and objectives Scudder and Hill (1998) and Flynn et al. (1990): survey
(henceforth Group 2, G2) (S), direct observation methods (DOM, of which those
2.1. Service management
identified in this study were: case study, field research,
2.2. General aspects of strategy and objectives of operations in
services field experiments and action research), panel study (PS),
2.3. Strategic quality issues in services laboratory experiments (LE) and other (O, including the
2.4. Service productivity use of a database and historical data).
2.5. Information technology and new technology in services As was the case with content, more than one research
2.6. Expansion, internationalization and globalization of services
method was often discovered in a single article. As
2.7. Supply chain strategies and objectives
such, we have counted each of these separately and
3Service operations design (henceforth Group 3, G3) identified both individual and multiple use. This criteria
3.1. Service selection and design
3.2. Selection and design of the service delivery system
has also been used by other authors (e.g.: Pannirselvam
3.3. Capacity design/long-term capacity and demand decisions et al., 1999; Scudder and Hill, 1998).
3.4. Service facility location The last issue that was examined concerns the
3.5. Service facility design and layout sectors of activity on which research focuses. There are
3.6. Service operations design in supply chains several different classifications of activity sectors, one
4Planning, scheduling and control of service operations (henceforth of the best-known being the ISIC (Industrial Sector
Group 4, G4) International Classification). Nevertheless, on occasion
4.1. Planning, scheduling and control of service operations
we found that the terminology used in these did not
4.2. Capacity planning, scheduling and control
4.3. Short-term scheduling and control exactly correspond to that used in professional circles.
4.4. Inventory management and control For this reason we created a less-detailed classification
4.5. Service project management aimed at grouping the various services together into
4.6. Design, measurement and compensation of service work activities that have certain management problems in
4.7. Measuring and control of service quality
common. When no particular sector was specified in an
4.8. Planning, scheduling and control in supply chains
article, it was classified as generic (see Table 3).
J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603 591

Table 3
Sectors of activity
B2B service companies Personal services
Commercial distribution Postal and courier services
Education Professional services
Financial institutions and insurance companies Public services and non-profit making companies
General energy supply Telecommunications
Health Tourism, leisure, culture and sport
Maintenance and repair Transportation

Table 4
Proportions of SOM /OM articles and x2-test comparison (OR/MS and OM journals)
1997–1998 1999–2000 2001–2002 1997–2002
Total OR/MS journals 74/472 15.7 73/439 16.6 42/371 11.3 189/1282 14.7
Total OM journals 36/1005 3.6 57/1186 4.8 62/1136 5.5 155/3327 4.7
Total 110/1477 7.4 130/1625 8.0 104/1507 6.9 344/4609 7.5
2 2
x -test (x , significance) 68.1714, 0.0000 60.8480, 0.0000 14.9629, 0.0001 136.2427, 0.0000

4. Analysis of SOM research respective percentages reveal that there was, in fact,
a decrease in the actual relative importance of SOM
In this part of the paper, we take a detailed look at publications during the second 6-year period, followed
each of the four questions that were set out as research by a distinct resurgence during the third. The x2-test
objectives in Section 1. shows that there is an evident statistical significance
(x2 = 54.7448, sig. = 0.0000), although no significant
4.1. Quantification of the research difference is observed for the percentages for the first
and third 6-year periods.
Table 4 shows how the proportions of SOM/OM The analysis of pipeline research (Table 5) might
articles have evolved. Contrary to above-mentioned indicate whether continued future growth could be
expectations, and despite the importance of the sector, expected. We therefore selected the conferences that
the total figure is still very low in both absolute and we considered to be the most relevant for OM at the
relative terms, with only 7.5% of OM articles being present time: the POMS, DSI and EurOMA Con-
service-related. Moreover, there do not seem to be any ferences. The first two were part of earlier studies on
distinct trends towards an increase in SOM research in OM research published in JOM (DSI in Amoako-
the 10 relevant outlets as a whole during the 1997–2002 Gyampah and Meredith (1989); DSI and POMS in
period. This, together with the mean average of 7.5%, is Pannirselvam et al. (1999)). We also included the
a good indication of the little importance that is still EurOMA (not part of the earlier studies) alongside
being given to service operations research in the OM
field. With regard to the two types of journal (see
Table 5
Table 4), the x2-test reveals that the percentage of SOM
Evolution of SOM research: journals (1982–2002) and pipeline
articles in OR/MS journals is significantly higher than research (2001–2002)
in OM journals, both for the overall total (14.7% versus
4.7%) and per period (see x2-test results in the last line
of Table 4). Journals
If the time period taken into consideration is 1982–1987 23/362 6.35
1992–1997 53/1958 2.71
extended further into the past and the results are 1997–2002 344/4609 7.5
compared with the 6-year periods for 1982–1987
(Amoako-Gyampah and Meredith, 1989) and 1992–
2001–2002 259/1407 18.4
1997 (Pannirselvam et al., 1999) (Table 5), the
592 J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

these two conferences, as it is the most representative 4.2.1. SOM research by topic and comparison with
of European OM research and receives a high number earlier studies
of participants from other parts of the world. As was The first seven topics in the ranking of articles clearly
done in previous studies, we used the conference stand out from the rest, commanding 61.5% of
proceedings corresponding to the last 2 years of the publications. The percentages they achieve are all very
period being analyzed, 2001 and 2002. similar and range from 8.1% to 9.3%. In fact, when a x2
Table 5 shows that the percentage of SOM/OM comparison of proportions test was performed, no
research at conferences is higher than in articles. The statistically significant differences emerged between
results of the x2-test indicate that this difference is them. With regard to pipeline research, seven topics
very significant (x2 = 143.1626, sig. = 0.0000). In (between 7.2% and 13%) again command the majority
individual terms, the SOM/OM percentage at each of the research (67.9%), although they are not the same
of the conferences is also significantly greater than topics as in the journals. In the following we remark on
in articles (DSI = 21.1%, POMS = 19.3% and the main topics found in the two rankings.
EurOMA = 11%). It would therefore seem that pipe- The highest percentage in SOM articles (9.3%) is
line research should produce an increase in SOM Topic 3.2, Selection and design of the service delivery
publications in the future, although: (a) this will not be system. It is equally important in pipeline research,
so great as the difference that was found (not all where it obtains an even higher percentage (11.6%)
conference papers become articles); (b) the transfor- (despite falling to second place in the ranking; the
mation might take more than 4 years (according to difference with the topic in first place is not significant).
conventional wisdom, there is a 1–3-year delay from It should be highlighted that it appears in third place in
the initial submission of a manuscript until the actual Mabert’s SOM study (1982), with 13.9%, and that the
publication of an article). related topic in OM, ‘‘Process design’’, is also one of the
most popular topics in the wider field of OM in earlier
4.2. Research content studies: second place (19.89%) in Amoako-Gyampah
and Meredith (1989) and fourth place (11.29%) in
This part of the paper addresses the second question Pannirselvam et al. (1999).
in the study: What are the main topics of research? In Topic 4.8, Planning, scheduling and control in
this regard, the content of SOM research (journals and supply chains, is in second place in the ranking of
pipeline research) will be looked at in Section 4.2.1 and articles with 9.1%. It drops to eleventh place in pipeline
a comparison made with the studies mentioned in the research, however, with 3.3%. There are no specific
literature review. To a certain extent, this allows us to supply-chain related topics in the earlier studies.
see how SOM research has evolved and to determine Three topics with identical percentages (8.9%)
any content difference compared to OM research. In follow in third position (2.4, 4.2 and 4.4). Service
Section 4.2.2, a comparison is made with the SOM productivity (topic 2.4), goes up slightly in pipeline
research Agendas that have appeared over the last 10 research (9.4%), although this increase is not sig-
years in order to detect any similarities or differences. nificant. This topic does not appear explicitly in the
Section 4.2.3 presents the way in which strategic and earlier studies. With regard to topic 4.2, Capacity
tactical/operational aspects are addressed in SOM planning, scheduling and control, this is in eighth place
research, with the results set out in Table 6. The first in the Amoako-Gyampah and Meredith study (2.76%)
six data columns show the number of topics and the and ninth place in the Pannirselvam et al. study (2.09%).
percentages they obtained in journals and in pipeline Moreover, the OM pipeline research results (1.01%) in
research together with their positions in the rankings Pannirselvam et al. (1999) show that there ought to be a
based on the percentage of the totals they achieved. The downward trend. This topic was given greater
last columns contain data on four studies that each importance in the field of SOM. As such, ‘‘Capacity
propose a SOM research agenda. Finally, the last two planning’’ was in second place in Mabert (1982) with
lines give the total number of topics devoted to strategic 22.1%, and in 1980 Buffa identified it as one of the most
issues and to tactical/operational issues. The number of important topics in SOM. Our results also show that this
topics (471 in Table 6) is greater than the number of topic has continued to command great importance in
SOM articles (344 in Table 4) since, as was indicated in published service research (with an overall total of
Section 3.2, it is possible for an article to cover more 14.2% for capacity related topics (3.3 plus 4.2)).
than one topic. In such cases, the article counts for each Nevertheless, there is a striking decrease in pipeline
of the topics it deals with. research, where if achieves a grand total of only 7.2%.
Table 6
Distribution of research by topic (journals and pipeline research)
Topic Total journals (1997-2002) Total pipeline (2001-2002) Agendas
Articles % Ranking Ranking Papers % out Chase Johnston Nie and Roth and
topics papers of total (1996) (1999) Kellogg Menor
(1999) (2003)
Group 1 (G1: introduction and key issues 6 1.3 7 1.9
of management in services)
1.1 Introduction and key issues of management in services 6 1.3 18 15 7 1.9

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Group 2 (G2: service operations strategies 139 29.5 159 44
and objectives)
2.1 Service management 12 2.5 15 12 9 2.5 X
2.2 General aspects of strategy and objectives 17 3.6 12 7 26 7.2 X X X
of operations in services
2.3 Strategic issues of quality in services 38 8.1 7 1 47 13.0 X X 1
2.4 Service productivity 42 8.9 3 4 34 9.4 X X 4 X
2.5 Information technology and new technology in services 18 3.8 11 3 37 10.2 X X 3 X
2.6 Expansion, internationalization and globalization of services 3 0.6 20 16 6 1.7 X X
2.7 Supply chain strategies and objectives 9 1.9 16 22 0 0.0
Group 3 (G3: design of service operations) 115 24.4 101 27.8
3.1 Service selection and design 17 3.6 13 10 15 4.1 X X 2 X
3.2 Selection and design of the service delivery system 44 9.3 1 2 42 11.6 X X 2 X
3.3 Capacity design/long-term capacity and demand decisions 25 5.3 8 13 8 2.2 X 7
3.4 Service facility location 8 1.7 17 18 3 0.8 10
3.5 Service facility design and layout 6 1.3 19 20 1 0.3 11
3.6 Design of service operations in supply chains 15 3.2 14 5 32 8.8 X
Group 4 (G4: planning, scheduling and 211 44.8 95 26.3
control of service operations)
4.1 Planning, scheduling and control of service operations 24 5.1 9 16 6 1.7 X 8
4.2 Capacity planning, scheduling and control 42 8.9 3 9 18 5.0 7 and 12
4.3 Short-term scheduling and control 39 8.3 6 8 20 5.5 8
4.4 Inventory management and control 42 8.9 3 13 8 2.2 14
4.5 Service project management 1 0.2 21 19 2 0.6
4.6 Design, measurement and compensation of service work 1 0.2 22 20 1 0.3 X 6 and 13
4.7 Measuring and control of service quality 19 4.0 10 6 28 7.7 X X 1
4.8 Planning, scheduling and control in supply chains 43 9.1 2 11 12 3.3
Total 471 100 362 100
Strategic issues 254 53.9 260 71.8
(STI = G2 + G3)
Tactical/operational 211 44.8 95 26.3
issues (TOI = G4)

594 J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

Topic 4.4, Inventory management and control, has Research on New technologies (topic 2.5) is flourishing,
traditionally been the focus of a lot of attention in OM leaping to third place in pipeline research (10.2%) from
research: first place in Amoako-Gyampah and Meredith eleventh (3.8%) in journals. Service design of opera-
(1989), and second place in Pannirselvam et al. (1999). tions in supply chains (topic 3.6) shows a similar
These two studies indicate a distinct decrease in increase and jumps from 14th position (3.2%) to 5th
publications for the topic, however: (24.59% in 1982– (8.8%). Topic 4.7, related to Service quality control,
1987, versus 16.19% in 1992–1997), and this was justified almost doubles its percentage, and moves up from 10th
by the change in direction brought about by the success of (4%) to 6th position (7.7%). Finally, topic 2.2,
JIT. When to this we add the fact that inventories play a connected with Strategy and objectives, doubles its
less vital role in services than in manufacturing, it is percentage and climbs from 12th place (3.6%) to 7th
logical that it should fall to thirteenth place in pipeline (7.2%). When the x2-test is performed on the various
research with 2.2%, even though it still represents 8.9% of pairs of percentages, they are shown to be statistically
SOM research publications in journals. significant. In the next section we shall see whether
In sixth position we find Short-term scheduling and these results are in line with proposals made in SOM
control (topic 4.3), with a percentage of 8.3% in articles research Agendas.
and 5.5% in pipeline research (eighth place). This marks
a huge drop compared to the results in Mabert, where 4.2.2. SOM research versus SOM research agendas
the topic was in first place by a large margin with The four studies that were used are cited in the last
37.2%. For any comparison to be made with previous four columns of Table 6. We would like to comment that
studies on OM, this result would have to be combined the Chase (1996) study is not strictly-speaking an
with topic 4.1 (Planning, scheduling and control of agenda. The author remarks on a number of research
service operations), thus producing a total of 13.4% in issues that he considers important, and refers to papers
articles and 7.2% in pipeline research. This would allow that have dealt with them and/or other issues that are
a comparison to be made with the OM Scheduling topic, pending research: it is these latter that we have used for
which appeared to be on the increase (16.30% in a comparison with SOM research. Meanwhile, Nie and
Amoako-Gyampah and Meredith (1989) and 25.54% in Kellogg (1999) propose a research Agenda with issues
Pannirselvam et al. (1999)). It has to be pointed out, ordered according to the importance they were given in
however, that the figure given (14.18%) by Pannirsel- a survey among OM academics and in which they are
vam et al. (1999) in pipeline research (OM Conferences classified as being either manufacturing types, service
1996–1997) did anticipate a distinct decrease for the types or mixed. The Agendas proposed in Johnston
topic in OM research in keeping with what appears to (1999) and in Roth and Menor (2003) express the
have happened in SOM research. opinions of the authors.
The seventh most-researched topic in journals is It is not the aim of this article to analyze these
devoted to Strategic quality issues in services (topic Agendas. Nevertheless, we have made use of them, as
2.3), with 8.1%, while it is in first place in pipeline far as we were able, for the sake of comparison with the
research with 13%. This represents a major change SOM research results (journals and pipeline research).
compared to the 1970s, when there was no quality- To do this we assigned the aspects mentioned in each to
related SOM topic in Mabert’s study. This growth is the different topics in Table 6, in the same way as had
again in line with OM research, as ‘‘Quality’’ is one of previously been done for articles and conference
the topics that showed a distinct increase in the earlier papers. Also as was done with the journals and the
studies: 4.97% for the period 1982–1987, 11.34% for pipeline research, any aspects found in the Agendas
1992–1997 and 27.62% in 1996–1997 OM Conference that were not strictly SOM-related were eliminated
pipeline research. For a clearer comparison of these from the study. The last four columns of Table 6 show
figures with SOM research to be made, the percentage the results after they had been assigned. A cross
for topic 2.3 has to be combined with that for 4.7 indicates that one or more of the issues on the Agenda in
(Quality control and measurement), which gives 12.1% question has been assigned to the topic in the
in articles and 20.7% in pipeline research, thus corresponding line. For Nie and Kellog, instead of a
confirming this tendency towards growth. The percen- cross, the position in the ranking of importance
tages for the remainder of the topics examined in obtained from the survey for all the academics as a
journals fall sharply (see Table 6). whole is given. This aggregation does not result in a
To conclude, we shall look at some significant distortion of the figures for, as the authors themselves
changes in SOM research found in pipeline research. state, respondants generally agree on the Agenda. On
J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603 595

odd occasions we have had to aggregate or disaggregate 4.2.3. Strategic versus tactical/operational issues in
Nie and Kellog’s results in order to allow a comparison SOM research
to be made with our topics. Given the repeated recommendations made in favor
It can be seen that, with some exceptions, on the of greater research in Strategic Issues (STI) (e.g. Buffa,
whole, the results of the SOM research (journals and 1980; Chase, 1980; Samson and Whibark, 1998), we
pipeline research) are consistent with those for SOM considered it important to study this aspect and compare
research Agendas. As such, topic 3.2 (Selection and it with research in Tactical and Operational Issues
design of the service delivery system), which is the (TOI). According to studies by Amoako-Gyampah and
leader in both journals and pipeline research, can be Meredith (1989) and Pannirselvam et al. (1999), the
found on all research Agendas, and in second place on latter predominates in OM research, as it also did in the
the Nie and Kellog Agenda. Research in Quality (topics SOM research analyzed by Mabert at the beginning of
2.3 plus 4.7), which goes up from lower positions in the nineteen-eighties (1982) in which TOI achieved
SOM articles to much higher ones in pipeline research 82.6% compared to 17.4% for STI.
(topic 2.3 jumps from 7th to 1st while 4.7 climbs from The results in the last two lines of Table 6 show that
10th to 6th), also appears on all the various research for the period 1997–2002 the aggregated total of articles
Agendas (and in first place on Nie and Kellog’s). Topic on strategic issues (53.9%) is greater than that for
2.4, Service productivity, is placed 3rd and 4th in SOM tactical/operational issues (44.8%). This difference is
journals and in pipeline research respectively. It is in a statistically significant (x2 = 7.8020; sig. = 0.0052), and
similar position on Nie and Kellog’s Agenda and can shows a marked change from the above-mentioned
also be found on the other Agendas. studies on OM research, whose authors established a
The huge jump made by topic 2.5, Information predominance of tactical/operational issues in OM
technology and new technologies in services, in the research up to 1997. This is supported by the trends in
SOM research rankings (11 in journals versus 3 in evolution seen per 2-year period. Although this
pipeline research), is in keeping with the demands made information has not been included in the table due to
in the research Agendas. Topics 4.8, 4.4 and 4.2, which lack of space, it can be stated that STI research goes up
fall significantly from one research ranking to the other from 44.1% to 58.6% between the first and third 2-year
(2 versus 11, 3 versus 13 and 3 versus 9), are not all on periods, while TOI research falls from 55.2% to 41.4%.
all Agendas and those that are (4.4 and 4.2), are in very Both these differences are significant (x2 = 6.0808,
low positions on Nie and Kellog’s. Design of service sig. = 0.0137 and x2 = 5.5102, sig. = 0.0189, respec-
operations in supply chains (topic 3.6) does not appear tively).2 Total figures for pipeline research (last two
on the three oldest Agendas, and is very low in the lines, Table 6) clearly confirm this, with STI rising from
journals ranking (14th). It does, however, go up in 53.9% in articles to 71.8% in conference papers, whilst
pipeline research (5th) and can be found on the most TOI fall from 44.8% to 26.3%. These differences are
recent Agenda. The issues related to General aspects of very significant (x2 = 27.7470, sig. = 0.0000 and
strategy and objectives of operations in services (topic x2 = 30.1341, sig. = 0.0000, respectively). It would
2.2) also go up (12 versus 7) and are on three of the therefore appear that research in strategic issues is
Agendas. beginning to take a hold in SOM.
There are, nevertheless, a number of topics that are An analysis of the seven most-researched topics
on at least two of the SOM Agendas which have not strongly supports this. In articles, three of these are on
received due attention to date in SOM research. This is strategic issues (topics 2.3, 2.4 and 3.2) whilst the other
the case of Service selection and design (topic 3.1), four are on tactical/operational issues (topics 4.2, 4.3, 4.4
Planning scheduling and control of service operations and 4.8). Nevertheless, these four TOI topics are not
(topic 4.1), Work design (topic 4.6), Capacity design/ found in the pipeline research and are replaced by others,
long-term capacity decisions (topic 3.3, although it is in with three out of the four dealing with strategic issues
a lowly position on the Nie and Kellog Agenda), Service (2.2, 2.5 and 3.6) and only one with TOI issues (4.7).
facility design and layout (topic 3.5) and Expansion and Although we have not included information per type
globalization of services (topic 2.6). The gap regarding of journal in Table 6, we can state that OM journals are
this last was also remarked upon by Prasad et al. (2000).
The remaining topics, which are towards the bottom of
both research rankings, either do not appear on the 2
This is in keeping with the growth in the proportion of SOM
research Agendas at all, or only do so on a single articles in OM journals and with the fall in OR/MS Journals men-
Agenda. tioned in Section 5.
596 J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

the main outlet for SOM papers devoted to strategic difference being increasingly less significant (see last
issues (69%), whereas for articles related to tactical/ line Table 7). Given that it is frequently difficult to
operational issues (61%) it is OR/MS journals. The determine which research methods were used from
latter seems logical given that these types of issues have conference proceedings (especially when there are only
greater links with quantitative research, which is more a abstracts, as in the case of the POMS conferences), we
feature of OR/MS journals. A correspondence analysis have not analyzed how this tendency has evolved in
of journal groups (OM and OR/MS) and type of issue pipeline research.
(STI, TOI) confirms this, and the x2 contrast reveals that With regard to the type of journal (see Table 7), as
the variables are not independent (x2 = 47.296 and was expected the OR/MS journals present a much
sig. = 0.0000). higher percentage of models/simulations (81.5%) than
empirical methods (16.2%). The opposite is true for OM
4.3. Research methods journals, although the differences are not so pronounced
(46.2% (E) versus 39.8% (M/S)). A correspondence
This section addresses the third question in our analysis conducted on journal groups and research
study: What methods are used for SOM research? methods clearly confirms this. The x2-test contrast
Table 7 shows the number of articles in which each type performed on the data in Table 7 shows that these
of method is used. The use of more than one method for variables are not independent (x2 = 62.2002 and
a single article means that the figure for the total in the sig. = 0.0000).
table (443) exceeds the number of articles that were It could be inferred from these results, and those in
analyzed (344). Data in the total line shows that the use Section 4.2, that there should also be a link between
of models and simulations (M/S) leads by a large the research methods used and the strategic and
margin with a percentage (60.7%) almost twice that of tactical/operational topic groups. The correspondence
empirical methods (31.2%). This difference is clearly analysis that was then conducted corroborates this
significant (x2 = 77.9913 and sig. = 0.0000). The hypothesis: the study of tactical/operational issues has
difference between the use of models/simulations and distinct links with the use of models and simulations,
empirical methods is also significant for each time whereas the study of strategic issues is linked to
period and is always in favor of the former. empirical research. Given the connection between
These results tally with those of research in OM strategic issues/empirical research and tactical-opera-
between the beginning of the 1980s (Amoako-Gyampah tional issues/modeling and simulation, the evident
and Meredith, 1989) and the end of the 1990s growth of STI and decrease of TOI in pipeline
(Pannirselvam et al., 1999). Nevertheless, throughout research that was previously mentioned could be
the three 2-year periods there is a tendency towards a indirect confirmation of the future growth of the use of
decrease in M/S and an increase in empirical methods, empirical methods and decline of M/S in SOM
with the gap closing as time progresses, and with the research.

Table 7
Distribution of research methods
Research method 1997–1998 1999–2000 2001–2002 Total % Type of journal
Articles % Articles % Articles % OR/MS % OM %
journals journals
Theoretical/ 6 4.6 7 4.0 7 5.0 20 4.5 3 1.4 17 7.7
Literature review 1 0.8 8 4.6 7 5.0 16 3.6 2 0.9 14 6.3
Models/simulations 89 68.5 106 60.9 74 53.2 269 60.7 181 81.5 88 39.8
Empirical 34 26.2 53 30.5 51 36.7 138 31.2 36 16.2 102 46.2
studies (E)
Total 130 100 174 100 139 100 443 100 222 100 221 100
x -test M/S vs. E 46.6526, 0.0000 32.4004, 0.0000 7.6466, 0.0057 77.9913, 0.0000
(x2, sig.) for
each period
J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603 597

Table 8
Types of empirical researcha
Empirical research 1997–1998 1999–2000 2001–2002 Total
Articles % Articles % Articles % Articles %
1. Survey 6 16.7 20 37.0 16 29.1 42 29.0
2. Direct observation methods 20 55.6 12 22.2 24 43.6 56 38.6
2.1. Case studies 18 50.0 12 22.2 18 32.7 48 33.1
2.2. Field research 1 2.8 0 0.0 2 3.6 3 2.1
2.3. Field experiments 0 0.0 0 0.0 1 1.8 1 0.7
2.4. Action research 1 2.8 0 0.0 3 5.5 4 2.8
3. Panel study 2 5.6 0 0.0 1 1.8 3 2.1
4. Laboratory experiments 1 2.8 1 1.9 0 0.0 2 1.4
5. Other 7 19.4 21 38.9 14 25.5 42 29.0
5.1. Database 0 0.0 2 3.7 1 1.8 3 2.1
5.2. Historical data 7 19.4 19 35.2 13 23.6 39 26.9
Total 36 100 54 100 55 100 145 100
The total in this table (145) does not coincide with the total of empirical studies in Table 7 (138). The difference results from seven studies making
use of two different empirical methods.

To conclude this section, given the growing interest 33.1% (see Table 8) of the 31.2% for empirical research
in empirical research, we studied the different types (see Table 7)), which is clearly much higher. The
mentioned in Section 3. Table 8 shows the way they are statistical significance of the differences between these
distributed. proportions cannot be measured due the fact that the
In aggregate terms, the majority of research (38.6%) specific data from which they were obtained does not
falls into the category of Direct Observation Methods appear in the earlier studies.
(DOM), basically case studies (33.1%). This method is
followed by Surveys (29%) and by the ‘‘Other’’ 4.4. Sectors of activity
category (29%) using, for the most part, Historical
Data (26.9%). The differences in the proportions of This section deals with the last question in our study:
DOM and the other two methods (Survey and Other) are Which sectors of activity are most commonly studied in
not statistically significant. Two-year figures do not SOM research? Table 9 shows the number and
reveal any distinct trends in the way the relative percentages of articles that deal with each of the
importance of the three main research designs (survey, sectors under consideration. It should be highlighted
case studies and historical data) has evolved. The that, as in the Mabert (1982) study, the majority of the
presence of Panel Studies and Laboratory Experiments articles (79.4%) deal with one sector or another. This
is purely anecdotal. marks a difference with the results found in Amoako-
The comparison of research methods with specific Gyampah and Meredith (1989) for OM research, in
data on SOM from previous studies is not possible, as which there were few articles devoted to specific
none exists. A comparison can only be made with OM sectors. The Pannirselvam et al. (1999) study does not
data found in Amoako-Gyampah and Meredith (1989) address this question.
and Pannirselvam et al. (1999), and then only for the Three sectors comprise almost 50% of the total
main methods, surveys and case studies. With regard to articles: Transportation (20.1%), Commercial distribu-
surveys, a distinct increase could be seen from 7.22% in tion (18%) and Health (10.2%). This is true for both
the first study, to 13.17% in the second. In our study, a types of journal, although in different orders. The
percentage of 9% is obtained for SOM research (that is, remaining sectors obtain much lower percentages. In
29% (see Table 8) of the 31.2% total for empirical Mabert (1982), research in Transportation (19.8%) was
research, see Table 7). in second place and Health (17.4%) in third. The
With regard to case studies, a stagnation in OM important position the latter had had in the 1970s was
research can be seen, with 4.94% in the Amoako- therefore maintained. Commercial distribution, on the
Gyampah and Meredith (1989) study, and 5.24% in that contrary, did not appear in that study. It should be noted
of Pannirselvam et al. (1999). However, in our study, that Health is one of the sectors that Chase (1996)
case studies in SOM research stand at 10.3% (that is, believes it is important to do research in.
Table 9
Sectors in SOM research (journals and pipeline research)

J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

Sector of activity Journals Pipeline research
OM OR/MS Total Ranking Ranking Total papers POMS DSI EurOMA
journals journals (2001–2002) (2001–2002) (2001–2002) (2001–2002)
Articles % Articles % Articles % Papers % out Papers % out Papers % out Papers % out
of total of total of total of total
B2B service companies 4 2.6 10 5.3 14 4.1 7 7 11 4.2 8 5.8 2 2.1 1 3.7
Commercial distribution 38 24.5 24 12.7 62 18.0 2 2 43 16.6 20 14.5 16 17 7 26
Education 2 1.3 1 0.5 3 0.9 13 8 10 3.9 4 2.9 5 5.3 1 3.7
Financial institutions and 7 4.5 9 4.8 16 4.7 5 5 14 5.4 6 4.4 5 5.3 3 11.1
insurance companies
General energy supply 2 1.3 7 3.7 9 2.6 10 9 5 1.9 4 2.9 1 1.1 0 0.00
Health 22 14.2 13 6.9 35 10.2 3 1 47 18.1 22 15.9 23 24.5 2 7.4
Maintenance and repair 6 3.9 3 1.6 9 2.6 9 11 2 0.8 1 0.7 1 1.1 0 0.00
Personal services 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 14 13 1 0.4 1 0.7 0 0.00 0 0.00
Postal and courier services 1 0.6 2 1.1 3 0.9 12 14 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.00 0 0.00
Professional services 4 2.6 2 1.1 6 1.7 11 11 2 0.8 0 0.0 0 0.00 2 7.4
Public services and non-profit 5 3.2 6 3.2 11 3.2 8 4 17 6.6 12 8.7 2 2.1 3 11.1
making companies
Telecommunications 5 3.2 11 5.8 16 4.7 5 10 4 1.5 1 0.7 1 1.1 2 7.4
Tourism, leisure, culture 9 5.8 11 5.8 20 5.8 4 3 26 10.0 15 10.9 9 9.6 2 7.4
and sport
Transportation 16 10.3 53 28.0 69 20.1 1 5 14 5.4 7 5.1 6 6.3 1 3.7
Generic (no specific sector) 34 21.9 37 19.6 71 20.6 63 24.3 37 26.8 23 24.5 3 11.1
Total 155 100 189 100 344 100 259 100 ‘ 100 94 100 27 100
J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603 599

It should be highlighted that not enough attention is sector moved up from eighth to fourth place and
paid in journals to research in some significant sectors doubled its percentage points. It should also be noted
found in developed countries, such as: Tourism, leisure, that the Education sector quadrupled its proportion
culture and sport; Telecommunications; Financial (from 0.9% to 3.9%), rising from last but one to eighth
institutions and insurance companies; Public services; place. Another important sector, Energy, remains in a
and Energy supply. The same was true for the Mabert lowly position and achieves an even smaller percentage
study except for the Financial institutions sector, which (1.9% compared to 2.6% in articles). All the remaining
was in first place with 23.3%. Another interesting sectors continue to occupy very marginal positions in
difference can be found with regard to the Education SOM research. Finally, it only remains to be stated that
sector, which is last but one in our study (0.9%), whilst the percentage of papers that deal with no specific sector
in Mabert it was third (equal with Health on 17.4%). (generic) rises, although the difference in comparison
Although evolution over time does not appear in with the articles is not significant.
table form due to the lack of space, it does provide some Lastly, we also considered it would be of interest to
information of interest. The apparent equality in the discover whether any relationships existed between the
aggregated number of articles dealing with the sectors dealt with and the type of journal, the type of
Transportation (20.1%) and Commercial distribution issue (strategic or tactical/operational), and the research
(18%) sectors masks the decrease in the former (25.5%, method (empirical or models/simulations). An analysis
19.2% and 15.4%) and the increase in the latter (14.5%, was conducted that focused on the first seven sectors
16.2% and 24%). There is also a distinct increase in under articles in Table 9. Although lack of space does
articles devoted to Health (6.4%, 9.8% and 15.4%). The not permit us to give numbers for the analysis, these
remaining sectors show no distinct trends. show that:
The figures for pipeline research (see Table 9) show
that six of the sectors that were ranked in the first seven (a) The Commercial distribution, Health, Maintenance
places in articles (percentages of over 4%) are the same, and repair, Professional services and Education
and three of these are in the same position (Commercial sectors appear to have definite links with OM
distribution, Financial institutions and insurance journals. On the other hand, Transportation,
companies, and B2B service companies), with similar Telecommunications, B2B service companies,
proportions to those found in the articles. However, Energy and Postal services appear to have greater
there have been some variations: attention should be links with OR/MS journals. There are no clear links
drawn to the first place achieved by Health as the with any of the other sectors.
percentage it obtained has practically doubled. The x2- (b) The study of strategic issues appears to have greater
test shows this difference (18.1% versus 10.2%) to be links with the Financial institutions sector, Tele-
statistically significant (x2 = 7.9927; sig. = 0.0047). communications and Health. On the contrary, the
The trend towards an increase in research in the Health Transportation, Commercial distribution and B2B
sector that had been found in articles is therefore service company sectors have closer links with
repeated. The dramatic fall from first to fifth place of the tactical/operational issues. The Tourism sector has
Transportation sector, with only a quarter of its original no clear links at all.
percentage, should also be noted (statistically signifi- (c) Models and simulations appear to be the method
cant difference (x2 = 26.7258; sig. = 0.0000)). This that predominates in Transportation, Commercial
confirms the trends that were seen in evolution by 2- distribution and Telecommunications. Health,
year period in the journal articles. The proportion for Financial institutions and insurance companies,
Tourism, leisure, culture and sport rises from 5.8% to and B2B service companies are more associated
10%, going up one place from fourth to third, although with the use of empirical methods. Tourism, leisure,
this increase had already been noted in articles for the culture and sport does not appear to be linked to any
last two 2-year periods. It would therefore seem that method.
research in this sector is beginning to receive the
attention its importance demand. 5. Main conclusions, final remarks and research
It can also be seen that Telecommunications drops proposals
out of contention, falling from fifth (4.7%) to 10th place
(1.5%), despite the undoubted importance of the sector The main purpose of our study was to determine the
in the real world. The appearance in the top seven of a state of affairs of SOM research in the most relevant OM
new sector, Public services, must be highlighted. This outlets, especially with regard to the number of
600 J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

publications, content, research methods and sectors of previous research it was seen that there are differences
activity. To this end, we have collated a large quantity of between research in SOM and in manufacturing (e.g.
information in the foregoing sections, including pipe- the former has closer links with strategic issues and
line research, and remarked on the findings that have makes a greater use of empirical methods). We share the
come out of the analysis. Although it might be useful to opinion of Nie and Kellogg (1999), who indicated that
offer a final summary of the findings here, a lack of most manufacturing-oriented academics were more
space means we shall have to limit ourselves to setting likely to believe that extensions and adaptations of
out the main conclusions, on some occasions in an existing theories are sufficient to deal with SOM
aggregated form, and to adding some personal research problems. This was not the case with service-
observations. oriented academics, who were of the opinion that this
With regard to the number of SOM publications: was not true on many occasions and defended the
these represent 7.5% of OM research in the analysed uniqueness of SOM research for many problems (for
journals. This constitutes a rise compared to the example, in SOM problems are usually less-structured
previous 6-year period; the 18.4% achieved in pipeline than in manufacturing and more cross-functional).
research seem to indicate that there would potentially be Those less familiar with SOM can also make wrong
further growth during the years following the period value judgements regarding the relevance of SOM
analyzed in our study. Despite this, the figures topics. Following the same line, Roth and Menor (2003)
mentioned show that there is still clearly only a pointed out that the types of problems and methodo-
marginal amount of SOM research in OM research. logies found in SOM research tended to be different to
How can the enormous gap that has existed for so many manufacturing and that, because of this, ‘‘it may be
years between the crucial importance of services in more difficult for many POM scholars (less familiar
developed economies and the scant attention that SOM with SOM research) to evaluate publication quality and
research seems to receive from OM academics be contribution’’. It is evident that all this might lead to a
explained? Why do neither this importance nor the manufacturing bias when judging SOM research.
various Agendas seem to motivate OM researchers? An Another cause of misunderstanding could arise out
exhaustive worldwide survey of OM academics should of the insufficient use of a cross-functional approach in
be the subject of further research to find the answers to OM research despite the fact that a number of authors
these questions and to determine the deep-rooted causes (e.g. Hayes, 1998; Machuca, 1998; Krajewski, 1998)
of the problem. This would be a first step towards see it as an urgent requirement and have been making
combating them and finding a solution. demands for its greater use for a good number of years.
In the meantime, it is only possible to speculate It should therefore not come as a surprise that traditional
about the reasons why OM is out of step with the manufacturing academics are likely to misunderstand
economy. As early as 1999 Nie and Kellog were already the complexity of service design and delivery, which
indicating that it was a matter of fact that general require an even greater interdisciplinary view than
research and the teaching focus of OM academics was manufacturing problems.
manufacturing based (only 21.3% of respondants to These circumstances may serve as justification for
their survey were catalogued as service type). This the statement made by Roth and Menor (2003) to the
might be one of the causes for the lack of relative effect that traditional POM outlets may not be the most
importance of SOM research. Although the Nie and suitable for SOM research as they could be less
Kellog survey was only sent to USA scholars, the receptive to it. This is a concern, as new faculty and
situation does not seem to be any better in the EU candidates for faculty positions are still under great
judging by the results of pipeline research, which show pressure to publish in prestigious OM outlets. This
that the percentage of SOM papers (2001 and 2002) at usually leads to a choice of tried and true topics whose
the mainly European researcher-attended EurOMA publication involves less risk. Research in services does
conferences is about half that at US-based conferences not appear to comply with these prerequisites and this
(11% (EurOMA) versus 20% (POMS + DSI)). could be another reason for the low percentage of OM
This could lead us on to other possible causes of the research it represents.
problem: most reviewers in OM outlets could be on the We believe that as long as the above mentioned
manufacturing side, as a result of which the number of situation persists it will continue to be difficult to get
qualified reviewers in service research is much lower SOM research in the place where it belongs. And yet, it
than for manufacturing. In our opinion, this is not a is urgent to bridge the gap in order that our discipline
minor issue, as when comparisons were made with meet the needs of the Economy. In this regard, it would
J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603 601

be an important step if efforts were made both by With regard to research methods: the evolution of
suitable senior researchers to lead research teams, and models/simulation and empirical methods over the
also by OM outlet editors to publish more special issues period under consideration would seem to indicate a
and encourage SOM research through the Editorial shift towards a prevalence of the latter, which is in
included in each issue. We strongly believe that the keeping with recommendations by the well-known
problem is so great that OM society leaders (e.g. authors for OM research as a whole. Another interesting
EurOMA, POMS or even DSI) should also launch a aspect is that the percentage of surveys is smaller than in
‘‘crusade’’ in favor of SOM research. OM research, while the use of case studies is greater.
With regard to research content: due to a lack of With regard to sectors of activity: it must be
space here, we refer readers back to Section 4.2 for the highlighted that, contrary to what happened with OM
main findings that come out of the results in journals research during the 1980s, the majority of SOM
and pipeline research. We only remind you that the publications focus on a specific sector of activity.
results for SOM research have been consistent with the Nevertheless, practically 50% of attention focuses on
Agenda proposals for the most part, but that there are, three sectors: Transportation, Commercial distribution
nevertheless, a number of topics which, despite and Health. Pipeline research confirms this focus,
including issues that appear on at least two of the although Transportation is replaced by Tourism, leisure,
SOM research Agendas considered, figure poorly in culture and sport in the group of the three main sectors.
SOM published research (without pipeline research Some empirical research amongst service organizations
showing any trends towards a change). These are: is necessary here too, analagous to the research
Service selection and design, Planning, scheduling and mentioned for ‘Content’, in order to determine which
control of service operations, Work design, Capacity sectors are most in need of research.
design/long-term capacity decisions, Service facility The relationship that was found between content and
design and layout and Expansion/globalization of research methods should also be highlighted, as well as
services. that between the research methods and sectors of
If we accept the validity of the above-mentioned activity. These relationships might serve as a guide for
Agendas, greater attention ought to be given to these researchers when designing their research. Another
topics in the future. Nevertheless, for a more complete interesting aspect revealed by our study is the
vision of all the SOM topics that should be researched, connection discovered between the different types of
Agendas drawn up by Academics should be supple- journal (OM and OR/MS) and their content and the
mented with others taken from the professional field. To research methods and sectors they deal with. OM outlets
this end, further research should include a survey have greater links with strategic content, empirical
conducted amongst service organization managers. methods and some specific sectors of activity. OR/MS
This should be as exhaustive as possible in order to journals, on the contrary, have greater connections with
prevent there being any gaps between both worlds and tactical/operational content, the use of models and
to provide answers to the needs of said organizations. simulations, and other sectors. With regard to the
Another interesting issue is the evident evolution of number of articles, it must be remarked than the
SOM research towards a clear predominance of percentage of SOM/OM in OR/MS journals is clearly
strategic issues. This is clearly a positive move and higher than in OM journals. However, there has been a
responds to recommendations that a number of authors decrease in OR/MS journals in the last 2-year periods
have made since the 1980s (e.g. Buffa, 1980; Chase, and an increase in OM journals for all periods. As shall
1980). Nevertheless, the authors believe that there be seen, these trends could be associated with changes
might also be a negative aspect to this for SOM. In our in the types of topics dealt with (strategic versus
opinion, one of the reasons for the smaller number of tactical/operational (see Section 4.2.3)), and the
tactical/operational studies might be the fact that they methods used in SOM research (empirical versus
are more diffuse, less structured, greatly varied and, in quantitative methods (see Section 4.3)).
short, that their standpoints and the solutions to their This information may be of aid to researchers
problems are more difficult to determine than those on looking for a suitable outlet for their research. As far as
the same level in manufacturing. In our opinion, a small we, the authors, are concerned, this indicates that
amount of research in tactical/operational issues may be further profiling of the various OM journals would be
a failing in SOM, and an effort should be made to useful, and we are currently researching this issue.
increase research in this area (whilst not halting the Information on the absolute and relative numbers of
drive in strategic issues). publications in the various journals is also of great use
602 J.A.D. Machuca et al. / Journal of Operations Management 25 (2007) 585–603

as it can help researchers determine which journals well-known fact that researchers tend to submit their
show the greatest interest (or apparent interest, at least) studies to journals of this type.
in the field of SOM. People looking for the results of This analysis could possibly be flawed if what is
SOM research will also find this of interest, as they will being published does not reflect what is being submitted
be able to go straight to journals that have the greatest (that there is a bias in the journals regarding appropriate
number of publications. It will also be important for the topics for publication). However, Amoako-Gyampah
editors of the journals themselves, who will see how and Meredith (1989) and Pannirselvam et al. (1999)
they are positioned in both absolute and relative terms demonstrated that this was not the case in reality.
and, on this basis, they will, perhaps, be able to decide
whether to reposition their journal by encouraging Acknowledgements
research in SOM.
We would encourage the use of this first study of ours The co-authors gratefully acknowledge the valuable
into SOM research as a springboard for further research, comments and suggestions offered by the Associate
but with a wider focus. If this is done, our analysis could Editor and also extend their gratitude to the three
be expanded and the criteria for selection broadened to anonymous reviewers who assessed the article. They are
include more journals, such as some that are specifically similarly indebted to José Luis Pérez Dı́ez de los Rı́os
devoted to the services sector, as well as other for his help with the statistical calculations in the study.
prestigious outlets in the wider field of management. Finally, they would like to state that this study was
These were not included in our study as they did not conducted within the framework of the Spanish
meet the criteria that we had established to ensure the Ministry of Science and Technology’s project no.
quality/relevance (for the OM community)3 of the DPI2003-01579.
outlets to be analyzed. It should be highlighted that only
one service specific journal (The International Journal
of Service Industry Management) can be found in one of
the published rankings that were used (Soteriou et al., Aguilar Escobar, V.G., 2003. Análisis bibliométrico y de contenido de
1999), albeit in 18th place. The content analysis could los programas docentes y manuales de Dirección de Operaciones
also be expanded to include not only pure SOM articles, en Servicios. Doctoral Thesis. Universidad de Sevilla.
but also others that deal with the service-component in Aguilar Escobar, V.G., Machuca, J.A.D., 2000. Analysis of textbooks
manufacturing and yet others that have a greater on service operations management. In: Machuca, J.A.D., Man-
dakovic, T. (Eds.), POM Facing the New Millennium. POMS,
interdisciplinary element, especially those that connect Sevilla, pp. 383–392.
SOM with marketing and/or human resources. There Alfaro Tanco, J.A., Álvarez Gil, M.J., Montes, M.J., 2002. Lagging
could also be more detailed research into content with behind vs. advancing too fast? Identifying gaps in research in the
topics being disaggregated into more specific issues. supply chain. In: Proceedings of the Ninth International Annual
Finally, more studies could also be done on pipeline Conference of the European Operations Management Association
(EUROMA), Copenhagen, Denmark, pp. 27–38.
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