Rural small firm service quality: an exploratory study

David Moyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose
Rural entrepreneurship research traditionally focuses on the farmer or rural communities. Little work has been done to examine the ways in which small rural firms operating in and around rural towns develop their service quality priorities. This study seeks to examine the approaches to service quality of 12 such businesses and compare their priorities for service quality with the evaluation criteria of rural service consumers.

Design/methodology/approach
The paper adopts a multi‐method approach within the qualitative paradigm. A total of 12 business‐owners were interviewed and the critical incident technique (CIT) was employed with 60 rural consumers.

Findings
The service priorities of rural service firms and their customers do not match. The businesses privilege tangible aspects of their service delivery, but the primary cause of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction is found to be the behaviour of service staff. The service quality propositions of the businesses are driven by the competencies and priorities of their owner‐managers and are not informed by market research.

Research limitations/implications
A defining feature of small rural firms is their limited resource base. The businesses prioritise quality features which are not highly valued by customers whilst neglecting those which are. Scarce resources could be employed more productively.

Originality/value
For the first time service priorities of rural small firms are contrasted with the evaluation criteria of rural customers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-259
Number of pages12
JournalThe TQM Journal
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Fingerprint

Exploratory study
Small firms
Service quality
Evaluation criteria
Resources
Design methodology
Service firms
Customer dissatisfaction
Competency
Paradigm
Critical incident technique
Staff
Rural communities
Service delivery
Farmers
Consumer services
Entrepreneurship research
Multi-method
Customer satisfaction
Market research

Keywords

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurialism
  • Rural small to medium-sized enterprises
  • Critical incident technique

Cite this

Moyes, David. / Rural small firm service quality : an exploratory study. In: The TQM Journal. 2012 ; Vol. 24, No. 3. pp. 248-259.
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Rural small firm service quality : an exploratory study. / Moyes, David.

In: The TQM Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3, 2012, p. 248-259.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Rural small firm service quality

T2 - an exploratory study

AU - Moyes, David

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

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AB - PurposeRural entrepreneurship research traditionally focuses on the farmer or rural communities. Little work has been done to examine the ways in which small rural firms operating in and around rural towns develop their service quality priorities. This study seeks to examine the approaches to service quality of 12 such businesses and compare their priorities for service quality with the evaluation criteria of rural service consumers.Design/methodology/approachThe paper adopts a multi‐method approach within the qualitative paradigm. A total of 12 business‐owners were interviewed and the critical incident technique (CIT) was employed with 60 rural consumers.FindingsThe service priorities of rural service firms and their customers do not match. The businesses privilege tangible aspects of their service delivery, but the primary cause of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction is found to be the behaviour of service staff. The service quality propositions of the businesses are driven by the competencies and priorities of their owner‐managers and are not informed by market research.Research limitations/implicationsA defining feature of small rural firms is their limited resource base. The businesses prioritise quality features which are not highly valued by customers whilst neglecting those which are. Scarce resources could be employed more productively.Originality/valueFor the first time service priorities of rural small firms are contrasted with the evaluation criteria of rural customers.

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