n Journal of Contemporary Management - Managing service-based institutions in a context of unpredictable, complex change




Services constitute over 50% of the Gross Domestic Product of most nations of the world and appear to be characterised by unprecedented complexity, unpredictability and rapid change. The traditional management paradigm of scientific management, that has in many respects assumed a life of its own and became inherent in succeeding generations of management theory evolution, thinking and practice, would appear to no longer be effective for dealing with an unpredictable and continually changing global services economy. This paper is directed at exploring the services economy from an institutional management perspective, based on a multidisciplinary review of the contemporary literature. The purpose of this paper is to determine how management theory and practice has evolved in order to remain appropriate in a very competitive, unpredictable and constantly changing global services economy. It is suggested that insights gained from the literature may serve to inform contemporary services management theory and practice. An important finding emanating from the literature is that the management approach adopted needs to be appropriate for the context in which service systems are deployed. A scientific management approach appears to be better suited for ordered contexts, while a complex adaptive systems methodology for complex services encountered is deemed to be more appropriate.


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