Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show how modularity manifests in a service context, more specifically in the provision of care and services to independently living elderly. Design/methodology/approach – Four case studies provide insight into the specification of relevant components and their subsequent assembly into a customized package of care and services. Findings – In all cases, component specification and package construction take place in two phases: partly before and partly during care delivery. Early client involvement allows for a combination of standard components that have a lower level of customization, whereas late client involvement allows for adaptation of these components resulting in a higher level of customization. The paper proposes that modularity theory should distinguish between the creation of modular offerings in care provision versus their creation in goods production, since the findings are the exact reverse of the state‐of‐the art knowledge in manufacturing modularity. Research limitations/implications – The empirical part of this paper is limited to providers of elderly care and services in The Netherlands and is exploratory in nature. However, the newness of care and service modularity justifies the exploratory research approach. Practical implications – This paper offers elderly care organizations in‐depth understanding of their complex and multi‐faceted specification process. The insights help both care and service providers to make well‐considered decisions as to what level of client involvement to allow and the type of modularity to apply. Originality/value – This paper contributes to the emerging literature on service modularity.
International Journal of Operations & Production Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 12, 2010
Keywords: Service operations; Elder care; The Netherlands
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