Auditing and Awards for Service Quality

John Arne øvretveit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers different quality audit methods from the purchaser's point of view. It addresses the question of how purchasers can judge whether a provider will give a “quality service” for the period of the contract. It considers how different methods highlight areas of a provider's operation which could threaten the ability to give a consistently high quality of service. It discusses the usefulness of each method to the purchaser for deciding how and what to specify in the contract, and how to monitor quality during the contract. It also considers how these methods can help purchasers and providers to form flexible contracts and long-term collaborative relationships which are in the interests of both parties. The article concludes that it may be difficult to predict service quality using audit methods, but that purchasers can make more informed judgements about probability if they use a method which probes areas which are relevant to the type of service and the type of contract which they are considering. Research with practising managers suggests that purchasers of services should acapt an audit method to give more consideration to how the service treats its employees. This research revealed other areas on which purchasers can draw to develop a service-specific audit framework and method. Further research is needed into actual quality performance compared with audit ratings, in order to develop further the predictive potential of audit methods. Award frameworks are particularly useful to purchasers entering into long-term “partnership contracts” as a starting point for agreeing on areas which they and the provider will monitor and in correcting short-term preoccupations with cost and volume at the expense of the difficult-to-monitor quality of service.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Service Industry Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1993
Externally publishedYes

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