Customer Service, Entrepreneurial Orientation, and Performance: A Study in Health Care Organizations in Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the USA

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

This article examines the utility of a personality oriented instrument in predicting service-orientation, goal-orientation, and general performance in health care organizations in Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Employees completed a personality-oriented employment questionnaire that has been previously examined and had managerial and professional evaluations done of their levels of service oriented, goal-oriented, and general on-the-job performance. Based on the five dimensional structure derived for the personality-oriented inventory, we were able to explain from 22.7 (Hong Kong) to 36.1 (Italy) percent of service-oriented performance, 40.5 (New Zealand) to 52.3 (United Kingdom) percent of general performance, and 28 (New Zealand) to 43.3 (Hong Kong) percent of goal-oriented performance on the job.

Introduction

Recently there has been a dramatic increase in the attention given to human resource management issues in non-manufacturing service businesses as they pertain to the professional (e.g., scientists, engineers, and research and development specialists) and managerial occupational groups (Buckley, Carraher, Ferris, & Carraher, 2001; Huang & Carraher, 2004; Sullivan, 1999). Work in technical/professional oriented businesses is considerably different than that in any of the other environments in which professionals and managers typically practice (Miner & Smith, 1994; Parnell, Carraher, & Odom, 2000) as their external and internal environments may be neither well defined nor well understood and this can create a set of unique demands on the activities of both supervisors and those supervised (Eisenhardt, 1989). Further, the environment in these rapidly changing organizations results in a fundamental dilemma for management practitioners because there is a need to be both structured (in terms of making timely decisions concerning rapidly changing situations) and flexible (able to shift rapidly due to changes in the situation).

The observability of performance in health care organizations is seemingly beset with challenges because much of the output in this environment may be intellectual in nature and unobservable for long periods of time and the costs of a mistake can be quite costly, with customers potentially paying the ultimate price if an error is made. For such reasons providing quality care in a customer friendly environment has been increasing in importance in countries as diverse as Norway (Ostergren, 2006), South Korea (Choi, Lee, Kirn, & Lee, 2005), South Africa (Boshoff & Gray, 2004), and the United States (Fottler, Dickson, Ford, Bradley, & Johnson, 2006). Service oriented performance has been measured via samples during the past two decades, although a concerted effort to understand service oriented performance in health care organizations has not been forthcoming (Fottler et al. 2006; O'Connor & Shewchuk, 1995).

This article seeks to increase our understanding of customer service, performance, and goal orientation across multiple countries and cultures. Specifically, in the current paper we examine the utility of a personality-oriented instrument in predicting three types of on-the-job performance-customer service oriented, occupational goal oriented, and general performancein entrepreneurial health care organizations in Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Conclusions and directions for future research are also outlined.

Health care and customer service

For over 35 years J. D. Power and Associates have studied the product and service quality - and levels of customer satisfaction - in a myriad of industries from insurance agencies to telecommunications organizations to automobile manufacturers. In 2003 they added hospitals to their list of industries covered due to the increase in the importance of customer service and service quality in the health care field (Simmons, 2003). …