Improvisation in service performances: lessons from jazz

Published on May 1, 2006in Managing Service Quality
· DOI :10.1108/09604520610663480
Joby John9
Estimated H-index: 9
(Bentley University),
Stephen J. Grove29
Estimated H-index: 29
(Clemson University),
Raymond P. Fisk34
Estimated H-index: 34
(UNO: University of New Orleans)
Purpose – The purpose of this article is to establish the efficacy of jazz improvisation as a useful metaphor to understand and implement features that contribute to excellent service performances.Design/methodology/approach – The paper begins by presenting services as performances that often require flexibility and adaptability in their enactment. It then offers the metaphor of jazz improvisation as a means to comprehend and communicate the dynamics of such flexibility and adaptability. Jazz elements are used to illustrate their application to service delivery issues.Practical implications – Similar to jazz, services deal with complex and real time delivery circumstances; this makes services prone to uncertainty at the service encounter. Lessons from jazz offer service managers guidelines for improvisation by each player in their ensemble that can enable them to adapt to customers and produce a coherent and cohesive performance.Originality/value – The jazz improvisation metaphor offers a template and gui...
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