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Case Studies of Successful Companies in the Services Sector and Lessons for Public Policy

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  • Deniz Eröcal
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    The success of individual firms can illustrate lessons learned from economy-wide research on how public policy and private company policy affect the development of the services sector. This review of some 14 case studies of large international services firms shows that three factors are common to their success: (1) Many successful services companies examined owe their existence and success to the opening up of markets; (2) The opening up of markets enabled new entrants to take another step towards success, namely innovation. Such innovation — either in terms of processes or products — helps firms to differentiate themselves from other, often more traditional, firms. The strong focus on innovation is often associated with an important role of venture or risk capital. In many cases, successful services firms were also pioneers in introducing information and communication technology (ICT) and developing other key technology applications; and (3) A motivating work organisation. Firm case studies also highlight the importance of factors internal to a firm, notably the organisation of work, entrepreneurial management, the motivation of workers, and the company culture. These factors differ considerably across firms, but may include the decentralisation of responsibilities and flat hierarchies, compensation according to performance or compensation aimed at achieving worker loyalty (e.g. through profit sharing or stock options). Public policies related to innovation, ICT or work organisation, are important for company success in many cases, but almost always in a context of open and contestable markets. Etudes de cas d'entreprises à succès dans le secteur des services et enseignements pour les pouvoirs publics La réussite de certaines entreprises peut servir à illustrer les enseignements tirés d’une étude macroéconomique sur les effets que les politiques menées par les pouvoirs publics et les entreprises peuvent avoir sur le développement du secteur des services. Cette synthèse de quelque 14 études de cas portant sur de grandes entreprises internationales de services fait ressortir trois facteurs communs de réussite : (1) bon nombre des entreprises de services examinées doivent leur existence et leur succès à l’ouverture des marchés ; (2) celle-ci a permis à de nouveaux entrants de miser sur un autre atout pour réussir, à savoir l’innovation. Cette innovation – de procédés ou de produits – aide ces entreprises à se différencier des autres, souvent plus classiques dans leur fonctionnement. La place importante faite à l’innovation est souvent associée au rôle du capital-risque. Beaucoup d’entreprises de services florissantes ont été parmi les premières à adopter les technologies de l’information et de la communication (TIC) et à mettre au point d’autres applications décisives de la technologie ; (3) une organisation du travail motivante. Les études de cas sur les entreprises mettent également en évidence l’importance de facteurs internes, notamment l’organisation du travail, l’esprit d’entreprise, la motivation du personnel et la culture d’entreprise. Ces facteurs varient considérablement selon les entreprises, mais ils peuvent aussi faire intervenir la décentralisation des responsabilités, la réduction des niveaux hiérarchiques, un système de rémunération au rendement ou axé sur la fidélisation du personnel (par exemple, par un régime d’intéressement ou de stockoptions). Les politiques publiques concernant l’innovation, les TIC ou l’organisation du travail sont souvent importantes pour la réussite des entreprises, mais c’est presque toujours dans le cadre de marchés ouverts et contestables.

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers with number 2005/7.

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    Date of creation: 15 Jun 2005
    Handle: RePEc:oec:stiaaa:2005/7-en
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