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[Excerpt] The service organization has become the literal mainstay of the U.S. economy. As the predominant form of U.S.-based business, by 1990 service organizations contributed more than 72% of our GNP (Bowen & Cummings, 1990). Yet, while service organizations have been growing in both size and significance in the United States, it was not until the 1980s that organizational researchers began to specifically examine the nature of services. Most of this research studied transactional service encounters between customers and employees, which are temporary, often impersonal, and sometimes nonrecurring interactions between consumers and many types of service providers, such as supermarket (Rafaeli, 1989) and convenience store cashiers (Sutton & Rafaeli, 1988), as well as flight attendants (Hochschild, 1983), waiters (Mars & Nicod, 1984), fast food clerks (Leidner, 1993) and bank tellers (Schneider, Parkington, & Buxton, 1980).


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© Information Age Publishing. Final version published as: Walsh, K. (2001). The role of relational expertise in professional service delivery. In A. F. Buono (Ed.) Current trends in management consulting (pp. 23-42). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2000 Academy of Management Meeting in Toronto, Canada.