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Coincident with the increasing importance of services as a primary component of the economies in developed countries, a number of theoretically derived service typologies have been developed, yet there has been virtually no empirical validation of the proposed ideas. We conducted a survey of 273 managers in four service industries (Fast Food, Auto Repair, Retail Sales, Legal Services) to test how management challenges differ across different service industries. We also empirically tested a widely accepted service typology developed by Schmenner (1986) within the context of management challenges. Discriminant analysis was utilized to test the degree to which companies can be classified into groupings similar to the Schmenner's service process matrix according to empirical data rather than anecdotal observations. Our findings indicate that the while the service process matrix can be partially validated using empirical data. the distinctions between various industries are much "fuzzier" in practice. Different service industries can be classified according to empirical data, but misclassifications do occur. In particular, misclassifications are most prevalent where two service industries share a common characteristic as described by the service process matrix.


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Copyright by the Gibson D. Lewis Center for Business and Economic Development, Sam Houston State University. Final paper published as: Verma, R. and Boyer, K. (2000) “Service Classification and Management Challenges”, Journal of Business Strategies, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 5-24.