University of Oulu

Nätti, S., & Ulkuniemi, P. (2022). Embeddedness of individual expertise in professional business service relationships. Knowledge and Process Management, 29( 1), 79– 91.

Embeddedness of individual expertise in professional business service relationships

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Author: Nätti, Satu1; Ulkuniemi, Pauliina1
Organizations: 1Oulu Business School, Unit of Marketing, Management and International Business, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-29


The study aims to create an understanding of the embeddedness of individual expertise in the customer relationships of professional business service firms. A theoretical pre-understanding based on discussions of professional service business relationships in general and the role of individual experts in customer relationships, in particular, is assessed through a case study of a professional business services provider and four customer organizations. The study suggests that the embeddedness of individual expertise within professional services in business relationships manifest itself in four ways: (1) expertise embedded in knowledge of the service context, (2) expertise that can be transferred between organizational contexts, (3) expertise embedded in personal relationships, and (4) expertise embedded in the personal interactions that enable knowledge-sharing. Each has implications for various activities performed by the parties and relationship management practices, which are also scrutinized in the present study. Also, the adoption of a new concept of personified service in business relationships is put forward. The study highlights that the reliance on personal expertise is not only a challenge for relationship management, as often suggested, but can also generate effectiveness in both customer and supplier relationship management.

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Series: Knowledge and process management
ISSN: 1092-4604
ISSN-E: 1099-1441
ISSN-L: 1092-4604
Volume: 29
Issue: 1
Pages: 79 - 91
DOI: 10.1002/kpm.1702
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Funding: This work was supported by Tekes - the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Knowledge and Process Management published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.