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Date of Award

9-2010

Document Type

Campus Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Isenberg School of Management

First Advisor

Jane K. Miller

Second Advisor

D. Anthony Butterfield

Third Advisor

Lisa A. Keller

Subject Categories

Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods | Marketing

Abstract

With a growing focus on the knowledge economy, the Professional Service Firm (PSF) is becoming an integral part of the business landscape. PSFs deal in the business of providing knowledge services. The uniqueness of these services creates the need to explore how those services are delivered and how PSFs use their service successes to create organic growth through retaining and attracting clients. This study explores how transactional and relational contract/governance structures may impact clients' assessments of the professional service transaction. Organizational justice variables (distributive, procedural, informational, and interpersonal justice) are used to determine what elements of the professional service are most salient to clients in their assessment of the professional service transaction.

The study was conducted using a web-based survey instrument sent to clients of an international PSF. Responses were received from 142 clients in a variety of industries and government agencies. The study found that the type of contract between a client and the PSF impacts what elements of the transaction are salient to the client in relation to client outcomes like satisfaction, trust and commitment and client behaviors like intent to repurchase services from the PSF and willingness to provide word-of-mouth (WOM)/ referrals. Distributive justice, which has more of an economic/exchange basis, was found to be more relevant to client-PSF exchanges involving transactional contracts. The study also found that interpersonal and informational justice factors are more relevant to client-PSF exchanges involving relational contracts. However both distributive justice and informational justice were significantly related to client outcomes in both contract types. The findings have implications for how PSFs deliver their services and the impact that the delivery has on a PSF's organic growth through client retention and acquisition.

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