Best Article Award


Optimizing Customer Involvement: How Close Should You Be to Your Customers?

We are pleased to announce that "Optimizing Customer Involvement: How Close Should You Be to Your Customers?" by Scott E. Sampson and Richard B. Chase is the winner of the 2024 Best Article Award.

Each year, California Management Review recognizes the article published during the preceding year that has made the most important contribution to management practice. This article was selected as a finalist based on its performance and distribution, and the final selection was made by members of the California Management Review Editorial Board in April 2024.

More than four decades ago, Chase introduced a “customer contact approach” to service that recognized the prominence of customer interaction as a defining characteristic of service operations. In the ensuing years, the concept of customer interaction has evolved tremendously, largely due to advances in customer-facing technologies. Companies face perplexing decisions about where and how much customer interaction is appropriate. Too much interaction destroys operating efficiencies. Not enough interaction depersonalizes relationships and can frustrate customers. The strategic choice of how much to interact with customers is a managerial dilemma.

Parallel to the customer interaction evolution (or devolution) has been a research renaissance about customer participation in the formation of value propositions. Instead of viewing customers as passive consumers of firms’ value-laden products, the more enlightened perspective esteems customers as key players in value creation. Early thought leaders in this renaissance were Normann and Ramirez, who declared, “The goal [of business] is not to create value for customers but to mobilize customers to create their own value from the company’s various offerings.”

The issue this article tackles is practically important and is under-discussed. Many assume getting close to your customers is good business, but this article clarifies why that assumption is wrong.

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Optimizing Customer Involvement: How Close Should You Be to Your Customers?
This article provides a framework for analyzing customer interaction and participation, including an outline of decision factors, with the goal of identifying optimal and sustainable positioning for any given offering.


California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

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